In Sweet Company

“Freedom is constantly choosing the right path at the right moment — at every moment. No one can do that for you. … When you do this, you win the battle, whatever it is. You are victorious. You also cannot take freedom for granted. If you do, it will not be there when you need it most.” — Le Ly Haslip, IN SWEET COMPANY: CONVERSATIONS WITH EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN ABOUT LIVING A SPIRITUAL LIFEThis is a different kind of a love story that began for me a few weeks ago. I sat at my computer and watched Asma Mahfouz, a young Egyptian girl — scarcely 15 – speak fervently to her countrymen hoping they might hear her plea and come together in the name of “freedom, justice, honor and human dignity” and meet her in Tahrir Square on January 25th and demand their human rights. Her tiny face, black eyes flashing, peers from beneath her hijab. Her body — so diminutive it barely fills the screen — is in marked contrast to the enormity of her words. The dingy room in which she sits appears barren. The momentum and urgency in her voice speak volumes about the clandestine nature of her petition. She speaks earnestly, hungrily, with such passion and purpose she sometimes forgets to breathe. Thus far, just 2,954 people have heard the words she recorded on January 18th. If you listen to her, Asma will tell you of the four Egyptians who set themselves on fire to protest the indignities of life under the current political regime, how police tried to convince her these men were nothing more than “psychopaths.” But Asma knew better, she knew them to be activists, patriots, who risked their lives so others might live. That is why she asks her countrymen to rise above their resignation, their fear, and join her in protest. That is also why many Egyptian women left the imposed isolation of their homes — many for the first time in their lives — and took to the streets. Asma is the one — this very young girl — who urged the revolution we now watch from the comfort of our living rooms into being. She is one — the power of one — in action.Though I have never been to Egypt, never been confined by political or social policies I have powerless to change, I understand her appetite. I, too, on occasion, have longed to be heard, have labored to retain my dignity. I, too, have struggled to be free of constraints that kept me bound. I, too, have asked for support, not known whether it would come, and persevered with only my indignation and my God to urge me forward. What moves me to take action today is that I have the power to freely, easily pass the word. I can present Asma’s story to all the compassionate and powerful women I know, women who can respond to her call in ways Asma could not dream of when she sat in that dingy, barren room 3 1/2 weeks ago. I do not know what has become of Asma Mahfouz. I do not know what will happen in the country she so loves. All I know is that you are women in a position to help the women of Egypt, their children, their fathers, brothers, husbands, and sons. Let your voices be heard. If your organization is involved in an Egyptian relief effort, please let me know and I will post that information on my blog.Pass the word. Post this information on your Facebook page. Do what you can to help. In Asma’s name. In the name of Love. Your thoughts?

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