Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Women Express Selves in Baghdad

Most of the world has an erroneous image of how other cultures live based upon old news footage, inexact or incomplete coverage and sensationalism about the actions of a few. I'm willing to bet most women in other countries feel we live like the celebrities they hear about or the hurricane survivors across the southern coast because those are the only images they see of our nation. It is quite easy to have such a misconception. In fact, when I was a teenager, a youth exchange group from Florida came to northern New York state for winter break. When they arrived, they quickly looked relieved to see we were a lot like they were. Then we all laughed when their group leaders said, "The only images they see of New York are of violence in NYCity." The teens thought we wore leather jackets, carried knives and were street-tough kids. In reality, we were living in a former mill-town on the Hudson River and none of us lived a life remotely close to the media image.

So, imagine my joy this morning when I listened to Morning Edition on NPR and heard author Dexter Filkins, NY Times reporter, promoting his latest book The Forever War. Filkins, who has spent four years in and out of Iraq, said that when he was there recently he visited a park in Baghdad that a few years ago was a dark, dismal place with razor-wire, gun carrying men all around. This time he saw hundreds of Iraqis enjoying the park including women without head coverings, showing their sense of style by wearing jeans! I cheered for the women and said a silent prayer that this is becoming the norm.

My question for the rest of us is this, "What misconceptions do you have about yourself (or others) that may be holding you back from expressing yourself creatively?" I think it may be time to stop holding on to falsehoods and embrace our truth individually and collectively. Don't hold back if it can make the world a better place for even one person -- yourself.


See more about Filkin's book by clicking the title link below:
The Forever War by Dexter Filkins, Hardcover, 384 pages Alfred A. Knopf List Price: $25

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