Liberian war survivor walks on shells in Monrovia
Sally Field at the Emmy Awards
I am sitting in my living room, not grading papers or writing a poem or drawing up my first African Lit. test for my Tuesday class. I am actually working on my laptop and watching the Emmy Awards with one eye. Suddenly, I am startled by a speech on stage on my TV screen. An actress, Sally Field has just made an incredible speech to a huge applause, but she stops everyone because the speech isn’t done yet, she says. She has something else to say about war, so I stop to listen. I like it when people stand up against war, any war, and tell the world to cut it out and stop killing innocent people. Then I hear her say something which I have heard before: “If mothers rule the world, there would be no wars.” But her last word is cut short by something, something electronic or something more powerful than something. The last word, “war” is lost somewhere between me and my TV. Or was it lost on everyone too?
I ponder the statement for a long time after that before grabbing my blog site to post. “If mothers rule the world, there would be no wars….”
this could be true, you know. What if we were in charge of the world, we mothers, mommies, the life givers of babies, the ones who alone carry babies from the first skipped cycle to the last kick before birth, the ones who for nine months endure sleepless nights and morning sickness, the throwing up days, not being able to keep food down there, the times when the baby’s legs are so long, our abdomen actually felt the sharp pinch of a toe or leg. What if we had the choice of giving our sons AK-47s and M-16s and bombs and grenades and missiles and war planes to fly over enemy territory? What if we had to stop baking a pie just because we needed to make a quick decision whether to begin a war in Sudan or Somalia or Liberia or Sierra Leone or Colombia or Iraq or somewhere so far away we couldn’t care less? What if we had to toss aside our laptop where we were writing a poem about war while the evening meal simmered and suddenly, here we are being called on to call in the troops to declare war so the sons we gave birth to would go to kill other sons we gave birth to while the daughters we gave birth to watched the grandchildren? Oh well?
Would there be wars in Sudan? Would there be wars in the Middle East? Would there be wars in West Africa, in East Africa? Would there be wars in Colombia? Let’s examine Darfur, Sudan, where African Sudanese are dying while the Arab ruling government waits for the world to force them to stop killing other Sudanese.
In Sudan, the refugees displaced by the war are already in the millions, and there are a quarter of a million dead already? Would we start wars? Or would we end wars? Or can we say that the wars that have caused us so much pain around the world could only have been started by men? I don’t know. This is a difficult question to answer, but Sally, it was worth saying and putting out there.
Refugees in Darfur sit and wait forever.
I don’t know whether or not women rulers would avoid starting or supporting wars. All I know years after I had survived that war in Liberia is that wars kill human beings. Wars destroy the world. Wars never ever build up the world, and there is no one who can convince me otherwise. I know that when I was forced to be a refugee, I was afraid that the world had forgotten that I and my country people were being tortured, that every minute of the day, my country people were dying of starvation, of bullet wounds, of bombs, and that women were being raped every minute of the day. They were being tortured and their babies were being killed. I knew that it did not matter to me then whether or not it was men or women in charge of the world. What mattered then to me and still matters now is that HUMAN BEINGS are the ones ruling the world.