Janis nailed it…”Freedom’s just another word for nothing
left to lose.” (Kristofferson and Foster) Crazy as this world gets, those
nine words explain quite a bit.
Americans and our coalition of forces attempt to
“help” Afghans. We want to give them, “something” to lose.
But? What the heck is an Afghan? What do they want? What do they not want? 10
years later, do we even know?
Indulge me while I inject some confusion into our clarity
regarding Afghans. This is a paraphrased version of a Benedictine
Grima tale from her field work. If one desires knowledge about AfPak, particularly the
female’s role, Ms Grima is THE source.
The tale….Two men travel to village 1. While there, they
commit robbery and murder. These crimes are detected by local police. The
police debate their response, and decide to chase the perpetrators.
They enter the criminal’s village (village 2) where locals set
upon the police and kill them. These villagers for whatever reason don’t
appreciate nor require police involvement in their affairs. Villages 1 and 2
are content to solve crimes of any type within their own system of justice. In
response to the police incursion, village 2 blocks outside access to the road
preventing further police/outsider interference.
Up the road a bit, the next village (village 3) hears of this
incident. The road blockage makes them fighting mad. A village 2 v. village 3
mini-war occurs; people die. Why? Village 3 needs that road to survive or,
shoot–some other reason. We don’t and honestly; we can’t know.
The point isn’t “should we” or “shouldn’t we” be here; that’s a
different blog…Fact is we are here.
So let’s do this…Let me take you to a village. You comment
below on how we are going to help….maybe we’ll all learn something.
On the approach to the village we see a few hundred goats and herders.
(When was the last time you saw a herder?) Wild dogs bark our arrival, but
never approach us. We have to walk, just like locals; there are no cars or even
horse drawn carts. There isn’t a cell signal and there hasn’t been one for
miles in any direction. GPS? eh….even satellite navigation is not reliable.
Supplies move on foot. The men and kids seem dirty but not
filthy. There is no electricity or running water. The buildings are all made of
mud bricks and mud stucco. The ground is the same color as the buildings. We
see donkeys, chickens, but no females. Even if we do see a female, she’s
treated as if she’s invisible. Yet, female empowerment is considered critical
The goats, chickens and orchards tell us these are farming
people. There are no flags that indicate any sort of government building or allegiance.
A pond in the middle of the village isn’t likely potable.
The men wear a loose fitting pantsuit type garment, sandals and a vest. Nobody
wears glasses (or contacts) but always a head covering of some sort.
We’re told the kids don’t go to school. The last teacher was
killed by the Taliban more than 8 years ago. A local leans in and says,
“The Taliban left town as soon as the dogs started barking. You just
missed them.” The closest “city” is three hours away by car. The
information highway is 2,000 years ahead.