The lottery of birth.

Syria is on all our minds right now. We go about our lives as usual but I think about the people caught up in it quite often, mostly with feelings of helplessness, dread, relief, despondence. Helplessness at not being able to stop 8-9 year old girls from being picked off and raped (or worse) on a deranged man’s whim; dread over seeing another useless war looming over the horizon; relief that my family is not that family; despondence over all these other feelings.

I read a BBC report about the plight of these Kurdish Yazidis that the world has forgotten about amidst the more important matters of terrorism and ISIS and territorial rights. These women and girls, locked up in guarded compounds, await their fate much as a tied macaque waits for its inevitable end as bait for a hungry tiger. They may scream and flail, faint from shock, slit their wrists, but their perpetrators will still mercilessly grab their young daughters away from them and do with them as they may. I can’t even imagine their physical living conditions let alone the trauma of having your child taken from you, crying and kicking, to be carted off to what is certainly not a humane end.

How, as a parent, do you live after something like this?

Kurdish women, courtesy BBC UK
Kurdish women, courtesy BBC UK

I have Kurdish friends whose girls are 8 and 6, prime age for this thing we’re talking about. I cannot imagine those bubbly, kind girls who beg their mom to buy them a locket necklace so they can put their friends’ picture in it having to worry about being mauled at the hands of a strange man. Their mother, as open faced and mellow as the ones in this picture, dotes on her daughters and gently chides them for being greedy. My friends got away; the women in the picture could not. Their daughters are safe; the little girl above, who knows. Our friends’ kids will grow up as detached from the struggle in their home country as any other American but it could so easily have been them.

No wonder then that ancient Hinduism taught reincarnation and past karma determining your lot in this life. How else could they explain this lottery that is birth?


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