Like Ancient Times
Trip Start Nov 01, 2008
23Trip End Ongoing
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See, over the past twenty-plus years, the disorder here has grown so overwhelming and widespread, it has stretched across so many different facets of daily life that a sudden resolution is entirely impractical. While larger cities such as Kabul and Mazar-i Sharif have a little more structure and security, much of the countries population resides in smaller remote villages where the elders typically influence decisions regarding political and domestic affairs. For quite some time, that mostly worked for them. It was the culture that had been established and they were satisfied with it, but things began to change. The Taliban not only grew stronger, but several other smaller (yet similar) organizations started to form and began making their presence known as well. After awhile, they had effectively tormented and intimidated enough communities into following whatever policies that they had deemed rightful, regardless of how strict or absurd. Moreover, they successfully convinced the majority of the populace that if they defied such statutes, that severe punishment would occur – and it did (and some still does to this very day). As well, they (the Taliban and other groups) have always maintained a firm opinion that any government containing even one single dishonest individual is in turn, considered as an entire corrupt government, and anyone who supports such a system is (equally) as fraudulent as they are. Whether they truly believe such a thing, or use it as a rationale for preventing control and establishment remains, well, a matter of opinion – but so far, it has (at the very least) added more uncertainty to an already vulnerable set of circumstances (and people).
In addition, (historically speaking) it is the failure of betterment that has triumphed over success, and after more than a quarter century of that same outcome, it’s no kind of surprise that skepticism has rooted its way deep into the consciousness of many – and that task (by itself) of attempting to convince an entire nation that they DO have the power (collectively) to alter and improve this predicament is, quite possibly, the most daunting task of them all. When you also consider the illiteracy rates among adults (57% for men, 87% for women) and that nearly 70% of the population lives in poverty, it becomes almost entirely inconceivable to imagine things ever changing - though easier (certainly) to comprehend the size of the scale with which complication is being measured.
In conversations I've had with some of the Afghans I work with, the overall disposition (or stance) is not that all hope is lost or that change (and improvement) is unwelcomed, but that most people are so overwhelmed by the situation that they can hardly look beyond the simple well being of their own homes and families. That is, to them it feels a little absurd to focus on bettering their country, or to think that is at all feasible, when the lives of their loved ones are regularly being threatened. In all honesty, I can’t say that I would feel any differently about that.
While nothing stated above is anything new, it has all been well-documented by thousands of people (including many Afghans themselves), but I suppose it’s just another simple reiteration of how not-so-simple this all really is.