Wednesday, September 08, 2004

E-mail from an American aid worker in Afghanistan

I received the following e-mail from an American aid worker in Afghanistan and I thought I should share his insightful views in my blog. He writes:

I appreciated the article about "the painful truth". I was living in Uzbekistan during 9/11 and the people I know couldn't have been more kind and sympathetic to us Americans at that time. I noticed though that eventually the stories of it being done by Israel and the fable of all of the Jews not going to work that day started circulating around the country and was believed by some of my highest educated friends. After a while I found that many of them, while still sympathetic to our loss, had reached a justification of the action in their mind, either because of the "Palestinian cause" or the Jewish conspiracy against Islam or something. It was remarkable.

The more I thought about it, I came to the conclusion that since they would never do that and they identify themselves as Muslims, they couldn't imagine any other "Muslim" doing that. I am a Christian and when I hear of a "Christian" having bombed an abortion clinic or been outlandishly rude, I want in no way to be associated with him or her, so my first instinct is to think that the person couldn't really have been a Christian. After all Jesus taught the way of love and mercy and patience and grace.

I welcome the process of people questioning how these things have developed because I think it is the only way forward. I'm in about as conservative of a Muslim country as there can be and would love to see more self analysis by people, but here no one has been trained to "think", but only to do what they are told by the mullah, warlord, their father or husband or brother or whatever. It is sad. I thought it interesting to hear a village mullah one time tell me, "it is strange that we Muslims keep tearing down this village (it was a site of fighting by Mujahadeen), and you Christians then come in and help us."

As an American overseas I'm always trying to evaluate our policies and shortcomings through the different insights I gain from other cultures and peoples. It makes me a bit more of a stranger in my own country, but a more complete person. I hope your stay in Canada is allowing you to see the world through the eyes of a different culture as well.

...

I'm trying to plan a trip to Herat for this weekend if I can get a ticket and fighting doesn't break out. Another great historical city which I'm afraid has lost most of its glory, but hopefully I'll see for myself.

I spent most of yesterday exploring how the world was responding to the tragedies in Russia. I'm afraid people as a whole are hard headed and slow to learn lessons from the past. It seems to me that trying to answer "terror" with force is only going to create more terror which requires more "force", etc. The end result is a lot of death and hatred. I read an interesting book that talked about in these situations about how absurd it would be to forgive the perpetrators of the crime. But if you follow the path of unforgiveness to its conclusion you have perpetual war or hatred. Look at Palestine/ Israel, India/ Pakistan, Tutsis/ Hutus, etc., everyone is just in their right for "revenge", which just creates more people with a just cause for revenge. Forgiveness is the only thing that can break the crazy cycle of hatred and killing. So here is to a little more grace and forgiveness in this world!

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