Despite 2017 Odds, Afghan Friends Hope For Healing
Above photo: The blurred background atmosphere behind Mansoor’s silhouette seemed to want to drive itself into our lungs. The Afghan Ministry of Public Health estimates that in Kabul alone, 3000 people die from air pollution-related illnesses in one year.
During particularly stressful moments in 2016,
I had felt that the year was one long, hard Afghan night.
A few evenings ago, my eyes had smarted
from the dense irritant pollutants
that enshroud Kabul streets and invade breaths and dreams in winter.
Mansoor, determined to do well in his college entrance exams next year,
laughed sarcastically at the burnt air which smelled of soot and survival scraps,
holding his hand to his mouth and nose as a mask, saying,
“Of course our lives are shortened by this smoke.”
At least, someone had told me, T.V. ‘commercials’ warn us,
“Stay in, or else…”
I dashed back to my room, already coughing reflexively,
feeling like the human masses have been cornered into prisons within prisons,
elaborately presided over by an Afghan President,
his CEO and the U.S./NATO/UN corporate machine,
watched by an unquestioning, approving world.
Lifting the smog,
humanity’s pressing revolution
concretizes participatory self-governance,
and like mothers to their children’s needs,
Because Inham had told me he wanted to do better in school,
I was wondering about his unusual silence in class.
I approached him, and told him it was alright.
He was already doing well, in school and at home.
His eyes turned red, and he muttered,
“I was so busy…( busy with what ‘capital’
exacts from an under-aged bread-winner working in forgotten alleys).”
“Also,” Inham looked down and far,
“one student paid the teacher a bribe
and got better grades.”
When I found him in the streets today, he was at a video game console.
“My brother may beat me up if he knew this,
but I have a right to some fun once in a while, don’t I?”
Inham, what do you wish for in 2017?
“Er….I’ll try to get first position in school.”
I’ll give him the notebook he thought he wouldn’t get
because he couldn’t get ‘higher’ grades.
The world of lies around Inham whispers the error
that tests indicate ‘success’ or ‘intelligence’,
and that it’s acceptable ‘progress’
for economic and education systems to enslave the masses.
It’s not okay at all.
One of the saddest presumptions is
that war is necessary,
as if Ali’s brother needed to lose his life for Afghan or U.S. or my security.
Dehumanized and devalued by both ‘terrorists and anti-terrorists’ alike,
the people keep bleeding,
emptying their grief to deaf ears and cursory eyes too digitalized to pause,
and too commoditized to imagine or create.
We consume and consume the environment and the media,
and overlook what glares at us,
what implicates us,
what should help us realize that
we can’t go on exploiting Mother Earth or one another.
Inequality is drowning Mansoor, Inham and Ali.
It is killing love.
In our healing, to liberate ourselves,
we are learning, in our daily choices everywhere
and despite whatever,
to look at every grave as our own.
Sign ‘The People’s Agreement to Abolish War’ at http://enough.ourjourneytosmile.com