A Nail and a Piece of Glass

Last night, I was at a benefit for the Marjorie Kovler Center, which helps treat survivors of torture, and works to try to end torture.  One of the women who spoke had been a prisoner in Argentina, and survived torture there.  She was presenting a vase of flowers to an honoree, and added a nail in her gift.  She said that “a nail and a piece of glass” were the most prized possessions of women in their cells because you could use them to create art, drawing on walls, or sculpting a piece of soap, making beauty in the middle of horror to remind yourself that you were, first of all, a human being.

An acquaintance of mine recently called me a f**king do-gooder–and not in a very complimentary tone.  I’m more an observer than a doer–perhaps I could be called a f**king watch-gooder.  My week  home started with a tribute to the late Dr. George Tiller, of blessed memory: as you may recall, he was a doctor who was murdered in church on May 31 by an anti-abortion fanatic.  His widow and two of his four children came to Chicago for a very moving event in his memory.

On a happier note, I’ve spent several days this week with girls from Girls in the Game, a program which reaches out to girls 7-18 in Chicago, and gives them a safe place to play, to learn how to value themselves, their bodies, their lives.  One young tennis player told me she can’t play outside because there’s too much shooting on her street.  Another, abandoned by her mother when she was small, and making a home with relatives, spends every spare moment at Girls in the Game: it’s the place where she is welcomed, valued.  Any adults who come into the program are called “Coach,” and I do love being “Coach Sara.”  I wish I could take all these girls and wrap them in gold, protect them from the harm the world can and has done to them, keep them from ever needing a nail and a piece of glass to keep them safe.

  • Penny Thornton

    But how important to have that safe place, Sara, in which the girls can find out who they are. That’s worth doing!

  • Yes, it’s great that they have such a place. The staff are amazing–energetic, committed. They all have a background in social work or something similar, in addition to athletics, because they don’t think they’re training athletes, but using sport to help girls get better equipped to navigate the world. My contribution is only financial, but I’m really proud to be associated with the group.

  • genny from jersey

    Sara, I also think your writings have a positive impact that prompts people to examine life and how we can each make it better. Be proud that your are a “f**ing do-gooder. Sounds like a great new VI T-shirt. “I’m a F***ing Do-gooder.

    Your involvement with the Girls in the Game makes a profound differences in the lifes of the girls. “Coach Sara”–I like that.

  • In my experience, people who call other people f***ing do-gooders are feeling guilty about their own inaction. Good for you for making a contribution to something that has a positive impact on these girls’ lives!

    “Coach Sara” sounds like an honour.

  • Laurie

    Your response made me laugh! I can relate in that I’ve been called d***ed opinionated in a similar vein. Keep on observing! 🙂
    P.S. I just finished reading your new book and loved it. Now I’m in a withdrawal of sorts. No pressure but when will the next one be out?

  • It doesn’t really matter what kind of a do-gooder you are…being a do-gooder is the whole point! It’s a good thing!

    Well, I’ve just finished Hardball and enjoyed every single paragraph. I LOVED the ending…almost made me cry. I’m so excited to see what happens next…bet I know who’ll show up in the next novel or two – heh, heh.

  • Dan

    The world needs more do-gooders (f’ing or otherwise). Thanks, and keep up the good work, Sara.

  • Shirley Harrison

    I think I’ll start reading the early VI books again. Has been years, and I won’t remember them.

    The acquaintance sounds like a “wingnut”. They don’t respond to reason.


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