I (Cami) came home yesterday to see the following (see picture) sitting on my sofa. When my husband came into the room I said, “That’s crazy, isn’t it?”
“What?” he asked as he leaned over my shoulder to look at the images of our book cover and the National Geographic picture of a woman in a burqa with caged birds on her head. He hadn’t even noticed the uncanny similarity! The placement of the two pictures side by side was a complete coincidence.
As you might imagine, I sat for a good long time studying the similarities and the differences here. I posted the picture on Facebook immediately and sent a note to the designer (who also happens to be a contributor to the book). I wanted everyone else to be as taken with the coincidence as I was. What strikes me are the birds.
In one image they fly free; in the other, they live in a very, very small space.
There was a time in my life when I lived in a small space, too—when I looked at the world through the mesh of a limited theology and worldview. In truth, I (like everyone else, I assume) still have plenty of self-limiting beliefs that sometimes make me feel like I don’t have enough room to spread my wings. As Susan and I are fond of saying, “You can take the girl out of the religion, but you can’t take the religion out of the girl.” The “total depravity” doctrine still haunts me at times, even though I’ve consciously given it up.
But seeing our book cover sitting beside the image of this covered woman with the birds on her head made me remember how much range of movement I actually do have. For me and for most Western women I know, the limitations we have live mostly IN our heads, rather than being forced burdens placed ON our heads. I don’t know the life story of the woman in the National Geographic picture above, of course, but I do know there are plenty of girls and women who don’t have the option of choosing their lots in life (whether they cover their bodies or not).
Today I will be thankful to be an uncaged bird, and I will ponder how I can support those who are not so free.
Note: I hope in addition to reading Beyond Belief, you’ve all read Half the Sky by Kristof and WuDunn.