28 July 2012

how to save a life

My mom linked me to this article recently, and I was surprised and impressed by it. It is noteworthy for its gentle, but unflinchingly honest, portrayal of the messiness of humans, even those who we idealize. I am the first to instinctively put survivors of oppression on a pedestal: noble, strong, exalted beacons of what humanity should be in the face of despicable evil. But the truth of who humans are is far more complicated.

This article tells the story of a fiery young Afghan woman who fled to the U.S. after suffering mutilation at the hands of her husband and in-laws. Her face was chosen to grace the cover of Time magazine, and she became an icon of oppressed Afghan women. But this story focuses not so much on Aesha, but on the caseworkers, counselors, and teachers who have poured their hearts into helping the young woman, and reveals that caring for a real person like Aesha is far more difficult, frustrating, messy, draining, and unglorious than we would like to think. I commend it to you.