Shermin Kruse could have been born in the 5th century and fought alongside a Persian admiral, Artemisia I of Caria.
While their battles are invariably different, Shermin’s skills as a strategist, tactician, and warrior are not dissimilar. Both women are inspiring stories in themselves. Each models courage and a defining and rare strength of character despite their harrowing circumstances. They exercise leadership under great stress in WomanScape’s tapestry of warrior women.
Today we take a closer look at Shermin Kruse as a writer and activist. Bent on changing the world and mobilizing people to become agents of positive change for humanity, Shermin lives her mission fueled by her experiences as a child.
Shermin’s mission echoes a great truth: there is no fuel like great sadness and adversity to propel passion. We learn from Shermin that if we’re determined to create change and a better-shared humanity, we need to own and harness this message of change.
And own it, she does, filling the pages of her life and her book. In the semi-autobiographical stories of Iranian women in Butterfly Stitching, we see moments of Shermin’s early childhood in Iran prior to her move to Canada and eventual settling in the U.S.
Shermin presents us with a rare gift-expressing her pain and providing a unique perspective on Iran and the women forced to navigate the ravages of war during some of the Middle East’s most tumultuous modern-day periods. We travel from post-revolution Iran in 1966 to the aftermath of the revolution and the Iran-Iraq war through the eyes of two characters–Samira and her daughter, Sahar.
Like Artemisia of Caria, Shermin finds hope in dire circumstances.
Where Artemisia rescued her crew by ingeniously switching the flags on her ships, Shermin creates a path to hope and love in two captivating and heart-wrenching characters. Samira is a beautiful woman trying to navigate her new marriage and Sahar is a nine-year-old girl who grows up in the chaos and confusion.
We see the Iranian culture and family values during two different periods and decades of oppression. Sahar is a young girl frightened by constant air raids as her family is torn apart by the fall of the Shah.
Samira is a fourteen-year-old village girl living in rural Iran who navigates a forced marriage as the second wife to Davoud, a wealthy supporter of the pro-Western Shah of Iran.
As Samira forms her own opinions about Iran’s political situation and the ensuing Iran-Iraq war, we move with her, enjoying the things she loves.
Many of these things – music, dancing, food, and poetry – are banned in Iran as symbols of Western influence but they offer Samira a way to quietly defy the regime.
Over the course of Butterfly Stitching, readers imagine vibrant paintings and colorful Persian rugs.
We are immersed in culture and beautiful moments that offer readers insight into differences that may have been alienating before Butterfly Stitching. This is especially true when we consider the immigrant questions in our world and watch as Samira must flee Iran and begin a new life in Chicago.
This fresh start underlines Shermin’s advocacy as a lawyer and human rights director and mediator. Shermin’s TEDx Talk conveys her message to others, exemplifying the determination needed for changing unjust systems.
There are two simple principles according to Shermin: we must recover from setbacks and failures, and commit to being of service to others. This is critical, knowing success is full of failure and fear prevents most of us from staying in the fight. Secondly, without service, Shermin believes we can’t fully appreciate the universality of injustice. We must be able to relate to others to engage them in our perspective and our cause.
Tomorrow, WomanScape shares a few of Shermin’s favorite things from Iran. Every Friday is an experiential journey into the joys of storytelling so we hope you’ll take time to watch or download Shermin’s TEDx talk below.
You may also want to follow the link to purchase Shermin’s Butterfly Stitching and see the beauty of the Iranian culture in a whole new light. To this end, we’ve curated a few beautiful brightly colored scarves whose Persian design remind us of Shermin’s story. Click here if you’d like to see them.