Where is Your Nose?

April 13, 2011 at 7:00 am Leave a comment

I was in a Doctor’s office recently glancing through a National Geographic. I was basically looking at the photos. I marvelled at the photography but as I turned one page, I was shocked. There, centered at the top of the right page was a young woman staring at me with no nose. It took me a minute to process it. I just had to find out what disease had taken this poor young lady’s nose.

The article was on the culture of Afghanistan and apparently this unfortunate girl, who entered an arranged marriage when she was twelve, had disobeyed her husband and his penalty was to cut off her nose and ears. (click this link to the YouTube video) I was amazed, disgusted and very angry. My ‘eye for an eye’ reflex kicked in and I wanted to give this ‘husband’ a taste of his own medicine. I fumed about it all afternoon. How can a society be so obviously backward?

When I got home the current issue of Rolling Stone was in the mail. In it was an exposé of the American military in Afghanistan. Some rogue soldiers were killing civilian men out of extreme prejudice. The article was full of photos of dismembered bodies, bodies of teenaged farm boys and several bodies with the right hand pinkie finger cut off; the call sign of this particular group. I was shocked one more time. Here was a photo of a soldier displaying the severed head of a young man. That photo burned into my mind alongside that of the girl with no nose. I was sickened and disgusted again.

Maybe this guy deserved it. Maybe he cut off his wife’s nose and ears. But wait. Do two wrongs make a right? Of course not. Oddly, the girl with no nose is being helped with reconstructive surgery by the same military who beheaded the young man; but how many others are there like her? The answer isn’t to kill the benighted but to educate them. They are not evil; they are ignorant and living in a society where only 18% of women are literate and only 38% of men.

Our Canadian mission in Afghanistan is definitely important. We need to teach these people about social justice, about compassion and honest democracy. We need to teach them to read. Our military efforts there can be used to protect these efforts.

There is much teaching to be done so no one walks through life with their nose missing.


© Dave Jones/ Thunderbridge Productions 2011


Entry filed under: Articles.

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