On the Iranian detention of Sarah

Open Letter from Sarah Shourd

11/29/10  Curated by Stillmind
Photo: schani

Sarah Shourd, one of the three American hikers who was detained and imprisoned by Iranian authorities, was released in mid-September; the other two hikers remain in Evin Prison. This letter was sent by Sarah to supporters of Free the Hikers in late October. She has given Matador permission to reprint the letter in its entirety here.

I came out of prison feeling frozen. I put up walls inside walls because if I stayed tender for 13 months in prison I would have exposed myself to too much pain; because there wasn’t enough beauty in a day to ward off the long, spiritual winter; because I needed them to stay sane.

More than anything I’m grateful to finally be sitting here writing about prison in the past tense.

Yet, for Shane and Josh, prison is still locked in the eternal present.

I am one of the only people in the world that has their voices still fresh in mind. They were truly joyful to see me go free. Tightly grasping my hands in theirs they said, “We believe in you, Sarah, no one is more ready and capable of jumping into the free world and fighting for us than you are.”

“Free-life offers new challenges and very different obstacles than I faced in prison. I have reentered a world of fear and uncertainty…and also of great hope.”

Free-life offers new challenges and very different obstacles than I faced in prison. I have reentered a world of fear and uncertainty…and also of great hope. Now I know first-hand what our families and all of you have been experiencing all along.

I learned patience and perseverance those long months and it’s those lessons more than anything that are serving me now.

The most important thing that I can offer you are the words of Shane and Josh. What they want to say to you, more than anything else, is “Thank you.” Not even a message as basic as that has been able to fly from their lips, suspended by tender air currents and carried into your ears, for all these months.

“Thank you.”

Since the day I stepped off that plane into Muscat, Oman I’ve met with three presidents, numerous foreign ministers and ambassadors. Not one of them means any more or less to me than one of you.

I fervently believe that everyone’s efforts led to my freedom, everyone’s belief that the world contains as much goodness, and as much justice, as we create and put into motion. Not an ounce more or an ounce less.

I want this freedom, this justice for Shane and Josh, with every morsel of my being. Every breath I take, every time I open my eyes in the morning and every time I close them at night, I see them. I know them and I love them.

“Since the day I stepped off that plane into Muscat, Oman I’ve met with three presidents, numerous foreign ministers and ambassadors. Not one of them means any more or less to me than one of you.”

I want to ask you to please, look to the positive, feel the power and the strength of what you’ve done. Help us give one, last, huge push!!!

I’ve asked the world to redouble its efforts. But what does that mean? It means do what you do best, whatever it may be. Do what you do best for Shane and Josh. We need fundraising for legal expenses, translation and travel. We need t-shirts and jewelry sold. We need prayers and we need action. We need more people to visit the website and sign the new petition. Make a “Free All Three” banner and hang it up in the most visible spot you can find. We need you to mobilize and be ready for the next step when it comes.

We have all been changed and continue to be changed by this experience. Thanks to all the love and support I’ve felt in the last month I’m slowing thawing out, but sometimes it feels like a glacier in there, waiting for thousands of years for just enough sun. When Josh and Shane get out they will help me figure it out. No one knows me as well as they do. When the three of us are together and free, I know we will heal.

“Do what you do best, whatever it may be.”

Prison is not heaven or hell. Nothing in life made us ready for this experience, but Shane and Josh are coping. They are as strong as they need to be. They will walk out unbroken.

One of my students once said to me, “A part of me is yours forever” because I was there to help him get through a difficult time in his life. I want to say the same to all of you on behalf of myself, Shane and Josh, “A part of us is yours, forever.”

“Thank you.”

When Josh and Shane are free we will all be able to exhale collectively, pause and then ask, “Who’s next” There are millions more lined up, waiting to get free. “What’s next?” There are countless changes that devoted, committed people like ourselves can band together and fight for. I’m looking forward to the day. I’m hoping that Shane and Josh will soon be standing with us, asking these questions and finding answers.

-Sarah Shourd



10 Reasons You Know It’s Time To Go Traveling

10 Reasons You Know It’s Time To Go Traveling

Posted and curated by Stillmind

Written by Turner Wright

Feel like you need escape? Read these 10 reasons and see if it’s time to hit the road.

Photo by Marc Sebastian
So you finally did it. You moved back home. You gave up on your dreams of being a lifetime traveler in exchange for a pension, a steady paycheck, and a stable home environment.
Good for you. The only problem is, we both know it may not stick.
You can feel it already, can’t you? Not exactly a sense of loss, but rather, some part of you is being slowly diluted, your true self fading from a lack of stimulation.
Escape. Get out while you still can. Hit the road, and be grateful you pushed yourself.
How do you know when it’s time to go traveling?

10. Recycled Coffee Starts Tasting Good
You’ve become so complacent with your 9-to-5 cubicle job that that caffeinated mixture of grounds and office sweat is actually making your mouth water. You’re spending too much time staring at an LCD screen. Water cooler talk is fascinating to you.
GET OUT NOW, while you can still remember what sunlight feels like.

Continue reading

On Facebook and Etiquette

Etiquette values on FB

A post by Stillmind

via the Web

Let’s face it.  Etiquette is a lost art.  Forget “interruption marketing” for a minute and think about how people interact on a regular basis.  New technologies change that behavior as people seek to leverage the convenience they provide.

  • When the phone was invented, an etiquette had to evolve on how to greet a new call, what’s an appropriate time to call, how to converse without interruption.  (Lots of room to improve here still – I can’t understand why politicians don’t have to follow the “do not call” list rules, but that’s another story).
  • Email etiquette arguably doesn’t exist – in a business context, companies have a culture around when people turn to email and when they don’t.  Email between friends and family has a broad range of what’s “socially acceptable,” but over time people at least develop a sense of when people will reply and why.
  • Two years ago, no way I’d tell you that it would be acceptable to converse via text message/SMS with grandparents.  Same with instant messaging.

In each of these small examples, the communication is mostly 1:1.  Email can be broadcast 1:many, but it’s deliberate who the communication goes to – you select email addresses to include.  Enter the world of  Facebook, where the communication paradigm is different.  We have 1:many as the default – post once and share with many, who consume the content (status updates, photos, videos, links) at their leisure.  Forget that most people don’t have a common understanding of  what they see in the News Feed and why.   The barrier to communication is low – it’s easy to share a picture or post given so many ways to share, from mobile to desktop.

Sometimes people forget that the communication medium isn’t important – the content of the message is, along with the dynamic.  Is it something that should be shared 1:1 or OK to share 1:many?   Making that choice with the context to understand the medium is crucial in relationship building – for businesses or individuals.

I recently asked some folks on Twitter and Facebook about etiquette, and heard many bizarre stories.  From the unexpected sonogram photo to first hearing of a family death, people are choosing Facebook for the wrong type of communication at the wrong time.   Have an example to share?  Do you thing Facebook etiquette is a lost art or a lost cause?