“We share and trade a lot in Kabul: Nothing useful should be wasted.” – Latifa, My Forbidden Face by Karenna Gore Schiff
For those of you who don’t know, in school along with our consumerism project, we are also doing a Global Issues Novel Study (GINS). In this study we all got a chance to pick a novel, usually based on a true story, about an issue that we are interested about. Through this, we were meant to find ways that we could take action in these current issues. I chose a book titled My Forbidden Face. It is a true story about a young, teenage girl who has found herself a prisoner in her own home when the Taliban first made themselves known in Afghanistan. Her world spiraled, turning from a mostly modern society to a complete dictatorship. Countless rules, new ones being announced every day, taking the radio stations that once played music. I began thinking, how would my identity, values, and beliefs be altered if I was to live through and experience what the protagonist, Latifa, did. How it would feel to know freedom, in fact live half your life with the right, only to have it snatched away overnight. What would happen if I were to watch someone that I had known for practically my whole life be killed in front of my eyes.
As I was reading through the novel, I had an overlying question on almost every single page, why? Why are there so many rules, why isn’t anyone standing up against them, and why are the Taliban performing such cruel acts? Even if I can learn to accept their reasoning, I will never fully understand it. Who would be willing to become a part of the Taliban, knowing full well of all that they have done? Since Afghanistan is not considered to be a first world country, it has many different aspects that describe its’ collective identity, consumerism not being one of them. As you know, citizens of first world countries are often described as consumers. It has become such a big aspect of our lives that for us, living without consumerism would be the equivalent of living without our physiological needs. When I first began this post, I was thinking about how I can relate my consumer identity to that of Latifa, or others in Afghanistan. I found out very quickly that what people in countries like Afghanistan don’t waste their money on useless wants. They do whatever they can to survive. A really interesting idea that came up in this book was, “Joy and sorrow are sisters.” – Karenna Gore Schiff. It was something that really got me thinking about how two things that are such polar opposites can be true. After some consideration, I figured that she is correct. Without one, how can the other exist? That being said, I can never imagine what it would feel like to feel nothing but joy or sorrow. All I can say is that going through the hardships described in the novel.