“On the day she qualified for the Olympic Games, she began to cry underneath her red, black and green scarf, cry for every little girl who was told not to run by her parents in Afghanistan and other Muslim countries. She cried because those girls would never know the joy of moving with the wind in the middle of a dead sprint.” ~ Mike Wise, Washington Post , Sat, Aug 4th 2012
Men in her country said bad things about her. Told her she was a disgrace to her faith. Confronted her where she trained. Still she ran. Because the only man whose opinion mattered to her was her father who told her, “Run. Run like the wind.”
Takmina will return home after the Olympics. Home to people who “will do bad things to her.” She could stay in Great Britain. Seek asylum abroad. But she won’t. She will return to her country, to those who call her names and threaten her, and face what lies ahead. She does not say they are wrong. Simply, she says. “Someday they may see that I am right.”
“Someone has to face this problem and I am the one to face it.”
Now THAT is courage.
What gives someone that kind of courage? What is so compelling about moving with the wind in a dead sprint that casts out fear? How can it be worth whatever comes?
Social change comes incrementally, Wise’s article noted. In many ways it is like the training of an athlete, who bit by bit and day by day, ekes out the progress which makes them stronger and faster. We, looking from the distance of many miles and many years of women’s equality, would like this change to happen in a moment. In the London Olympic moment. In the 100 meters moment. It won’t.
But today my eyes are pried open to the plight of women who have so little and fight for so much that I take totally in my stride. I pray for their safety upon returning. I give thanks for their courage. And I introduce them to hope that the world keeps watching, day by day in the 4 years ahead. May the little ones hear the call of the wind and run, for their country, not from it, and find joy.