Thursday, July 1, 2010

Odium on Unmindful Democracy

I sometimes feel as if we live in a lovely bubble. We think it's tough when our cars break down, or we get behind on bills, or we can't fit into our favorite pair of jeans. We focus on silliness and insignificance as if it were some critical issue that we must battle. We pick over food not being prepared correctly at restaurants and use it as grounds to be unkind to another human being; we scoff at the person who isn't dressed just so, and then our children grow up and do the same. We create caste systems without names, except that they are enforced by prideful glances and eye-rolling, and perhaps a whispered word or two, just to make sure that one is kept in their place and then think we are better for it.

So often I think we take for granted the great gifts we have been given as a nation. We fight ferociously about a tiny injustice of someone accidentally dinging our car door while we keep a blind eye to what is happening throughout the world. Nobody wants to hear about the fear and trepidation that seizes the hearts of citizens of  other countries while their governments are at the root of violent acts against them.

I have followed Afghanistan's relationship with the United States reasonably closely, and not from U.S. news sources, since you get a very different perspective internationally. If Afghanistan was on the news every night, nobody would watch because it wouldn't entertain us. Why do we want to hear the same old news about that war that is so far away that we cannot smell the gunpowder, nor hear the casings clatter to the ground? I watched as Obama redirected the focus from Iraq to Afghanistan, a country who sheltered al-Qaeda's presence within their boundaries, allowing their organization to grow and flourish in the desert.

I watched as Afghan elections looked hopeful, and President Obama congratulated Afghanistan on holding their own election, only to have spoken too soon. I watched as the truth spewed forth about the elections, destroying confidence in the results. I watched as Mr. Karzai's opponent dropped out of the election with some sloppy reason, leaving an enormous question mark with Karzai's name all over it.

I watch as the battle rages on, taking the very familiar tone of Vietnam, while military leaders speak out in frustration and criticism against the executive branch of American government. I watch as those military leaders step off the stage, leaving an enormous hiccup in the velocity of the war. I watch as Americans go about their every day activities, oblivious to the fact that their safe rest at night is under the watchful eyes of men and women they will never know nor see.

I am not trying to take a gloom-and-doom point of view, and certainly there are those who mourn with the world as they take the time to be aware of the painful circumstances under which so many human beings live, not just in Afghanistan, but throughout the world. What can we do, after all?

We can be grateful for what we have. We can pray for those who struggle, both in our country and throughout the world, take the time to learn about your fellow earthlings, and perhaps find some small way to help through a humanitarian project, and the next time one verbally censures the government, remember that many died to remove the fear from our hearts to do so, and many more continue to die to protect that right. In many countries it would be a sentence for death.

Perhaps this year while celebrating our freedoms, wherever in the world one may live, we can think about what those fireworks represent, or put a flag in the yard. We can be grateful that our country doesn't block blogger or other social networking tools because they are trying to censure us. We can relish that family BBQ in the backyard a bit more because we can't hear bombs going off in the distance (unless they are fireworks) and we don't worry about our children wandering onto a land mine.

We can hold our family a bit closer, knowing that someone won't rip us from their arms just because we have an undesirable lineage or because we said the wrong thing out loud one day. We can be a bit more kind the next time something doesn't go our way, and don't be an agent for fear in another person's life because we could use more agents of safety and kindness instead.

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