Anita Hill, Gbowee Speak of Home, Conquering Fear

Friday, October 21, 2011

Anita Hill and Liberia's Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee prevailed in very different historic confrontations. But this week they expressed a similar longing for home. And both were asked about how they'd faced down fear.

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Missing Home

At the press briefing, Gbowee was resplendent in native Liberian dress and a head-wrap, and she made clear that she was uneasy about her new status as Nobel Laureate.

"I want to go home," she said. Home for Gbowee might mean the time before she became a Nobel Laureate and was given a driver and waived through customs, invited to use the V.I.P. lounge at the airport. Home also might mean continuing her work throughout Liberia.

"I told the driver I would drive myself," Gbowee said. "And he said ma'am, you goin' to cause me to lose my job." She kept the driver.

She added that when she entered the country as a V.I.P., her luggage was handled for her, but if she entered Liberia as an ordinary citizen and went through customs, five men would carry her bags and she would give a dollar to each one. She prefers to enter Liberia through customs.

She predicted that Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the only female president on the continent of Africa, will win the run-off for president and serve another six-year term. Gbowee has endorsed Sirleaf and it is expected the two will continue to work closely on the next stages of Liberia's recovery from the war.

Gbowee also made it clear that when she returned from Oslo, Norway, where she will accept the prize, she plans to begin work on a process of national conversation of reconciliation.

"I will use this prize as a platform," Gbowee said. "We haven't had time to do it until now. And we must use our own process, not one imported."

An audience member asked Gbowee how she dealt with fear during her movement's daily demonstrations.

"The war started when I was 17. I saw my first dead body and I will never forget it. When I was 31, I was jumping over dead bodies without thinking twice. You become immune to fear. We reached a breaking point; we snapped," she said.


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Rita Henley Jensen is editor in chief and founder of Women's eNews.

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Just an anecdote about home ownership. I am a Canadian, and I live in Canada and visit the USA regularly, with many relatives and some friends in the USA. I could easily afford to buy a home in the USA in many places where the housing prices have dropped. I could not afford to live in the USA, whether in a home or a rented or owned apartment. I cannot afford health care in the USA, and as an older person, I know I will have increasing needs for healthcare.
Thus, home ownership problems may really be based in health care and other expense problems. Home ownership, even if it costs no more than it should as a percent of one's income, may still be too much in order to pay for a ridiculous health-care system that rewards the physicians, the ultrawealthy, the professional athlete, and those at the upper end of the education and ability level and who are not yet old.
Throughout centuries, in most places in the world, health care is seen as a charitable requirement by governments and/or religions, to provide for the health of all those whose knowledge and finances cannot accommodate their health problems. Health care has always and will always require specialized training, thus, to deny access to that for all who cannot afford the top society level of payment, is to me, not the equivalent of most of America's enlightened and compassionate thinking. Just as freedom is a compassionate way of life, freedom with responsibility is, in some areas such as health care, what true freedom is really about. But, I know I do not think like an American in some ways, and I do not mean to offend.