Curious about Everything

Category: Humanitarianism

Selfies with the Taliban?

Emma Graham-Harrison / The Guardian »

The correspondents were men, who apparently didn’t register one stark difference; it was also largely men in their videos. Most of the city’s women had vanished into their homes, terrified of what Taliban rule would mean for them.

It could have been a momentary slip of attention, at a time of intense pressure. But in the weeks that followed, this kind of blindness to the particular tragedy unfolding for Afghan women would play out again and again, first in male journalists’ coverage of the Taliban’s victory, and then in international organisations’ response to Afghanistan’s crisis.

Afghanistan was already the world’s worst country to live in as a woman before the Taliban took control. But with the group curtailing employment, and even trying to banish women’s faces from TV screens, it plunged to new depths, restrictions rarely seen in recent decades beyond the pages of dystopian novels, the short-lived borders of the IS caliphate, or the last time the Taliban controlled Afghanistan. This past week marked 90 days since the Taliban effectively barred girls from higher education, with no date for a return to high school.

George Saunders’ 2013 commencement address at the Syracuse University College of Arts and Sciences » Try to be kinder

Down through the ages, a traditional form has evolved for this type of speech, which is: Some old fart, his best years behind him, who, over the course of his life, has made a series of dreadful mistakes (that would be me), gives heartfelt advice to a group of shining, energetic, beautiful young people, with all of their best years ahead of them (that would be you).

And I intend to respect that tradition.

Now, one useful thing you can do with an old person, in addition to borrowing money from them, or asking them to do one of their old-time “dances,” so you can watch, while laughing, is ask: “Looking back, what do you regret?” And they’ll tell you. Sometimes, as you know, they’ll tell you even if you haven’t asked. Sometimes, even when you’ve specifically requested they not tell you, they’ll tell you.

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