What we, as Americans, usuallly hear about Afghanistan and its inhabitants is couched in terms of the War in Afghanistan. For almost 15 years, United States forces have been militarily embedded in the country, having joined NATO and other allies in the latest, ongoing Afghan civil war which revolved and still revolves around the Taliban's control of the country. America's stated goal was to aid in the efforts to dismantle "Al-Queda". One of the major efforts towards achieving this goal was to remove "the Taliban" from power and insist on the group's handing over of Osama Bin Laden. Since 2001, thousands of lives have been lost on all sides of the multi-dimensional conflict ... a great, personal loss to all families involved.
Today, my thoughts go out to the Afghans as people. The mudslides in that country are just one of many human tragedies that have recently occurred across the planet and resulted in so much human loss and sorrow.
I try and can't begin to imagine the horror, fear, and helplessness experienced by onlookers, inhabitants of the village of Aab Barik, who saw their entire families buried alived by the same material of which their homes, their shelter, was constructed. In Afghanistan, genenerations of families live together under the same roofs and when the mudslides of May 2nd occurred, approximately 300 mud-brick homes were buried along with the approximately 1,000 people known to inhabit those dwellings. The mud-brick of which the houses were constructed suddenly became the enemy, aided by the torrential rains and flooding that had been inundating the semi-arid region for weeks. It now looks as if the threat is far from over because all that mud has now dammed the rivers setting up a scenario for recurring flooding.
For those of who think of Afghanistan as a far away place ... simply as a country where American troops are engaged in a war of long duration, here's a bit of basic history and geography. So readers can better place the country in a real and bigger world context. The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, commonly known as Afghanistan, is a mountainous, dry, and land-locked country in South-Central Asia. Its immediate neighboring countries are Iran, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and China. Afghanistan is the true geographic Middle East, serving as the connector between East and West Asia.
Afghanistan figured predominantly as a way point on The Silk Road, an interconnected network of trade routes across the Asian world that connected to the Mediterranean and which received its name from the Chinese silk trade. The silk trade was the major reason for the trans-continental connection of ancient trade routes.
Because of its strategic "pass-through" status, Afghanistan has always been a target for invaders. And when not being invaded, it has suffered from ongoing, internal civil strife and wars. The origin of the country's name rests with the "Afghans" ... another name for Pashtuns ... who are the founders and largest ethnic group in the country; "istan" is merely an Iranian word for "place".
Although "modern" Afghanistan was formally established in 1747, the term "afghan" goes back as far as the first millenium and the country has an ancient history. The Islamic influence took hold some time after the Middle Ages. At one time, Afghanistan was a British Colony, gaining its independence in 1919. Prior to its becoming a Presidential Republic, Afghanistan was a Kingdom with its own royal family. The capital of the country is Kabul.
Bare bones, I know. But - our soldiers who are immersed in the daily reality of life in Afghanistan probably know these things. It's always good to know and try to understand "the face" of any "place" where our US soldiers are currently deployed. Otherwise, we take them, actually all people involved, for granted ... giving them "faceless" status. When in fact, we, every single one of us, even those who are inhabitants of countries with which we are at war, are part of the human famiy. Even if some choose not to recognize and acknowledge that reality.
For now, I just want to concentrate on what the Afghan people (really any people across the globe who are reeling from some catastrophe) are feeling. And to laud any help given by our soldiers ... by anyone ... to those affected by this human, seemingly hopeless, tragedy. Again, what realy struck me hard here was the reality of those having to watch the mudslides happen, seeing their homes swallowed up before their eyes, and not be able to get to and save those they loved. All of it happening in the blink of an eye.
I'd like to ask the world to stop and offer up a prayer in this tragedy ... in fact, any tragedy whereby our human brothers and sisters are so affected. And there have been and continue to be so many .... in every corner of the globe. Here at home and across the planet. I also ask God to bless and bestow mercy on us, every one - here and departed.
Does anyone know any individuals affected by this or any of the numerous tragedies which we have seen flashed across the airwaves the last few weeks? Your thoughts and reflections?