Global Transitions & Development, LLC is pleased to present this first post from M.H., a GTD contributing author and international development expert from the Middle East. M.H.’s insightful and touching accounts are simultaneously personal and universal. She treats the reader to experience a unique viewpoint that comes from the dichotomy of free thinking within a conservative society, of war and the desire for poetry, and of appearances and realities. We are glad to have the privilege of sharing this perspective . . .
Although I don’t seem to be an adventurous woman or outspoken in public, for the first impression, I think and feel with great intensity. Sometimes I can read other people’s thoughts. I can feel the agony of people who have been struggling: I cry for the sick and the poor.
Although I may appear to be weak -because I am private- I am strong. I believe I can make a difference in the lives of people close to me and far away.
Although half of humanity is female, and I am average among my sisters, in terms of a lot of things including age, I am not what I appear, I am different.
I was born into a conservative society, yet I have been able to think freely and openly. My “small room” had a wider window than most; I could see more of the world through it.
When I had my chance I left my “small room.” I flew through my wide window, to my university, to my first profession, to, to my capital city, to a neighboring country, and from there, to Europe, and on to the United States.
Yet in a sense I have never left my “small” room, and in a sense I’ve done nothing but rebuild it, since I was very young.
My apartment where I live is not large, my “small” room rests within it; in that sense I am a woman within a woman: a woman of two identities.
Why have I traveled? What has pushed me into the wider world? War has put wings on me, how people live to deal with war has made me fly. Why do people fight?
I come from a barely big country, only twenty-seven million people live there, yet there seems to be not enough land and not enough oil, not enough clay and not enough fruit for people to own and sell, make and eat what they want without cheating each other for what exists, for not disputing the bounty of a great land, or, even, the bounty of a great religion.
War framed my youth. War boxed my adolescence. And now, war pushes me far from my mother, sister, and cousin, from my brother, from my father’s resting place; it keeps me from the love and the business of my family, and my family from the good things of life. War makes me awkward in the world. I have become an awkward adventurer.
War taught me to cover myself carefully, to be humble and respectful.
War has caused me to want to learn history. I want to know history from creation to this moment, as my fingers fall to these keys.
War has not made me want to know about science or astrology or the moods and methods of nature, yet I am interested to know those things. But war has made me want to know how to keep people safe and united. And that’s where I get to learn Conflict Resolution.
What I don’t like, what I resist, what I wish I did not have to learn are the reasons for the difference of the colors of people, for the difference of languages, for the difference of wealth, of health and of safety.
I see that people are kept like animals, and I want to set them free to roam.
I see that people keep themselves like animals, and I want them to open their cages and let in any visitor without fear.
I saw that I dreamed too much of peace and did too little to achieve it, even in my “small” room, so I came half the way around the world to try to help the world to be its beautiful inner self.
I wanted to enjoy art and poetry and music and colors and water and flowers and food, and leave all of those good things to everyone else in the world, before I leave the world. But I saw that I could not do so without peace. For what are poetry and music and color and water, bright flowers and good food without peace? They are too brief moments that, really, are just exploding things, because of war.
How can I be happy when everything I hold in my hands is like a grenade? I cannot be happy: happiness is pretending. So I forget my happiness while I studied Conflict Resolution.
I am an expression of conflict; it is inside; it is outside; small and large, it is what I think and feel. So I want to know what it is as would a reporter of the news. I want to know the “what” and “where,” the “when,” “how” and “why” of conflict. I want to classify conflict the way that people classify animals: I want a cage for every type of conflict. If I can do that I can “manage” it.
Our class has started me along the road to mastering the science of conflict. I have begun to collect conflicts. I have begun to draw maps to conflicts and away from them too. The lines of my maps are historical, methodological, and ideological. I have begun to pencil in the services: forms of government, associations of governments, non-government agencies that help to reduce conflict. I have met writers to visit again. I have learned of methods to study further: I know that a new road is as much a path to peace as is a good intention. I realize that justice is a high, dry place, and that corruption is a swamp.