The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.
Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams
Before we all went out onto the stage on the final night of our performance of The Vagina Monologues in Geneva, all the lovely Warriors stood in a circle and our directors encouraged us to share our thoughts on why we had decided to get involved in the production. I volunteered to go first because I’d given the question some thought. What I said was this:
I want to be involved because I have the freedom to make independent adult decisions and I want every woman in the world to enjoy the same freedom.
As I spoke, and then as I listened, I watched the faces of the gorgeous women I was about to share a stage with. I watched the joy, optimism, determination and enthusiasm which radiated from them. These are women who can and will change the world. They’re already in the process of changing the world, with the jobs they’ve chosen, the conversations they have and the strength and integrity with which they face the every day.
As I watched them I thought about something that a friend had said when I told him about my involvement in the play, about why I was interested and about the causes that we were raising money for. After listening to me talk about it, he said that he wished me well but accused me of naivety in thinking that we could make any difference. There has always been domestic violence and violence against women, he said, and there always will be.
He might be right. Of course I’m not naïve enough to think that three performances of a play one weekend in Geneva can change things overnight. But I’m not sure that the millions of women in the world who experience violence every day would thank us for giving them up as a lost cause.
There were moments during our rehearsals when I was nervous. Of course there were – I’m not an actress. But there were also moments when I experienced a profound joy. A deep happiness. It was a happiness that came from knowing that I was exactly where I was supposed to be and doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing. It was a happiness that came from optimism.
This happiness sprung from and swam about in a deep well of hope.
There is no way that I would be able to get out of bed in the morning – tomorrow or any other day – if I didn’t have the expectation that things could get better.
Am I naïve for hoping for happiness for women in the world who are unlucky enough to be in the wrong place, in the wrong time, with the wrong people?
I really, really hope not.