Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I Was Wrong.

It is time that I take another look outward - I came across an article in the Washington Post yesterday, but none other than the former First Lady of the United States of America, Laura Bush.


Then, in search of the same article later today, I came across an article about the former First Lady of the United States of America by another Washington Post commentator.


After reading the two articles, I confess that I wrote Laura Bush off many years ago because of her terrible choice of husband. I could not have possibly known that, despite being married to a man that is not known for his strong human-rights record, Laura Bush would be such an advocate for the health and welfare of women around the world. It is hard to imagine that a woman who slept in the same bed at night with a man who comfortably incarcerated thousands for a number of years without charge in Guantanamo Bay could quietly champion issues such as the education of women in places like Afghanistan and the human rights issues of Burma.

Firstly, I need to state that this post on my blog is not another opportunity for me to "Bush-Bash". I think the world has spent far too long discussing the consequences of the Bush Administrations' foreign policy on Afghanistan and Iraq, and to a greater extent, the Middle East. Instead, I am writing today about the way in which Laura Bush overwhelmed me with that first article on Burma. If you have a chance to read it, please do. You will find yourself amazed by Laura Bush's strong and determined position with respect to what needs to be done in Burma.

This blog entry is my statement to the world, admitting that I simply had no idea that Laura Bush championed such causes. I imagine that, like myself, many women outside of the United States saw Laura Bush as the stepford-cookie-baking-white-picket-fenced mother who happened to have two out of control twin daughters, a gun-toting husband and a penchant for lemon-coloured business suits and pearl necklaces. All jokes aside, I have found myself applauding Laura Bush for her article about Burma and its human rights issues, particularly that of Aung San Suu Kyi.

Why is it that I was not aware of Laura Bush's activism? Was I too busy slamming her husband's political stance to understand that she may have had her own opinions and agendas? Did I assume that she would not have been actively involved in humanitarian issues unrelated to that of her husband? Or did I assume that she would only limit herself to "domestic issues" and not stand up on the same large stage as her husband with respect to global humanitarian issues?

Or, am I missing the point completely? Is it, rather, the way that Laura Bush has gone about these issues that suprises me the most?

Is it those who yell the loudest, fight the hardest, and hold positions of greater power that are most likely to be the greatest champions of these issues?

What I am beginning to learn is that this is not the case. You do not need to yell the loudest, protest the longest, or climb to the top of whatever rung of the ladder you consider the most influential. As the second article by Kathleen Parker states:

"In part, it may be because Mrs. Bush's demure librarian-teacher persona has minimized her appeal to the media. But Bush's Texas manners should not be confused with passivity. She is a serious player whose White House tenure provides lessons for the next first lady."

I am slowly learning, in all areas of my life, that by carefully addressing issues at a slow and steady pace, I can actually make a difference. Perhaps I have taken a page out of Laura Bush's book and have realised that I do not necessarily need to scream the loudest, or fight the hardest. I will find my own way to help the world and like Laura Bush, I will one day change lives of those less fortunate than I.

(****On a side note, I am actually quite impressed by Kathleen Parkers' Washington Post articles, a selection of which can be found at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/linkset/2008/10/20/LI2008102001816.html)

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