I have a friend who lives in a country run by a dictator.
It's not a country that you hear about often and, for obvious reasons, I am not going to name it here.
My friend is a teacher. Like teachers everywhere, she doesn't get paid a lot. But unlike most teachers she can't leave her profession if she so chooses. She must have permission from the government. If she wants to travel anywhere, she has to give the government one month's notice before they will let her leave the country. She is also gay in a country where it is a criminal offense. As if this is not enough, she refuses to wear a headscarf in what is a Muslim country. Although this is not against the law, it goes against social norms and so she is pressured to cover-up.
As I was speaking to my friend today, I was reminded of the millions, if not billions of people around the world who just want to live their lives but are forced to become activists simply because the country they live in will not let them be themselves in simple ways. I take for granted the fact that I can get on a plane and go almost anywhere. That, given the ability, I can choose any profession I want. That I am free to be me.
The oil rich country where my friend lives will probably never have its laws challenged. It's a small country, so it's unlikely that anyone will lobby the UN about the status of human rights there.
I was humbled today by my friend, because, she may not be threatened with death, she lives under an the cloud of oppression every day.