Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Woman Warriors of Great Dignity




They are not victims.

They are survivors, but not just any survivors, superhero survivors.

Not everyone wants to hear what they have to say.

Some people don't want to go through the trauma. Some people don't like hearing about abuse. Life is hard enough without having to hear about sexual abuse.

Some people hear it and the stories sink so deep into their skin that they react in wild and visceral ways. They look away, but are still willing to help.

Some react by holding up the women in their own way -- signing a petition, writing a letter, sharing the issue with their friends, speaking to their Congressperson. I like to give hugs. I like to listen to the way their voices rise and fall.

Here's what I suggest, that we bear witness. That if the women are strong enough to stand before their families, their governments and the Japanese government and speak their truth, then I respectfully ask us all to bear witness. Listen.

The truth is not always easy, but it opens up the heart in most amazing ways.

And each of us can do our best to help in the way we know best, in the way that keeps us whole. It's different for everyone -- isn't that right, Annabel Park?


(Above, Lola Ashang and I at the 10 year anniversary of the founding of LILA Pilipina.)

A ten year old girl in Orlando wrote me. She wants to take the petition around her neighborhood and ask her friends and family to support House Resolution 121. Look at her, a ten year old superhero riding her bike from house to house with a clipboard in her hand.

This is a struggle for healing. This is a matter of dignity. This is about respecting ourselves and each other.

It is one for the history books. It is a testimony told and relived with every retelling, not to dwell on the past, but to open up the future.


(Above, Lola Josefa and Lola Dolor stand with comadres after a local rally in Manila during the year 2002.)

Superheroes speak their truth in front of large crowds. Before embassy gates. Into camera lenses. In classrooms. On the streets. In churches. At family gatherings. Superheroes whisper the truth in bedrooms to their loved ones, name their truth to their own hearts. Not victims. Not just heroes but Woman Warriors of Great Dignity. Superheroes. The lolas.

2 comments:

parkinstein said...

The best way to help is to hear them, allow them to teach us. The first time I really heard their voices and stories, I understood the meaning of the words "dignity" and "humanity" in my body. They were no longer abstract concepts. I was literally shaken out of myself and now I feel like I belong to a world of women and men who struggle, survive, love and ultimately heal themselves and others. I met you, Evelina, in that world...I have never felt stronger than when we have stood together to speak for the Lolas.

M. Evelina Galang said...

How to hear them so we might learn: Be silent. Look into their faces where the light is very bright. Be silent. Let their words wash over you. Be silent with an open heart and no assumptions. Be silent. Do not talk over them. Do not interrupt. Do not make excuses. Do not judge. Be silent. Just listen. That is all. Thanks for being a woman warrior too Annabel. The coalition is so blessed to have you advocating this issue. You're a good listener and together we're going to see justice. Thank you.

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