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Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan’

Maybe it’s because I was reading about an English photographer and gardener who pivoted her lens to her own backyard as the Covid pandemic hit the UK. I love stories of resilience like this; your life is just chugging along happily and suddenly the world shuts down… Ola Maddams captured wildlife in their own element with a heat-sensing camera. I adored her incredible shots of hedgehogs and the occasional fox!

At least I think that’s why the word “hegemony” came to mind.

…the dominance of one group over another, often supported by legitimating norms and ideas. The term hegemony is today often used as shorthand to describe the relatively dominant position of a particular set of ideas and their associated tendency to become commonsensical and intuitive, thereby inhibiting the dissemination or even the articulation of alternative ideas.” 

https://www.britannica.com/topic/hegemony

My interpretation of hegemony is that a ruling class comes to power without a single gunshot. They spread their ideology through stories, propaganda and coercion until it seems normal. If the Taliban think that maintaining their control of Afghanistan will be easy, that killing anyone who may have been associated with the resistance or American interests will cement their power, they are wrong.

Our lasting legacy in a 20 year war of occupation will not be American schools and hospitals, it will most definitely not be free and fair elections. But what we have left is a new generation that knows what freedom feels like. Young people who know there is a culturally conservative way to practice Islam, but also a rational reform way of practicing their religion. Young women who feel it is their God-given right to be educated.

And what makes our departure different from every other colonizing force in the past? The internet can be smuggled under an abaya in the palm of a woman’s hand.

A neighbor in VA was from Iran. She once told me that women would cover their fancy Western clothes with a big coat when they went to a wedding. Self-called morality censors on the street would never bother them, or maybe they were paid to look the other way. Coats would come off at the wedding venue and alcohol would be served. Where there’s a will….

The Bride and Grands collected toiletries for the Islamic Center of Nashville on 9/11. The Imam told us they are expecting to help relocate around a hundred Afghan families to middle Tennessee. Bob and I took off our shoes and toured the mosque while the kids played on the soft, padded carpeting.

Everyone was so friendly. It felt good, even cleansing to do this small mitzvah on the 20th anniversary of 9/11. The Hebrew word does not mean a “good deed,” it’s a bit more complicated.

The definition of mitzvah: “Mitzvah literally means “commandment.”  In fact, Jewish tradition understands exactly 613 mitzvot (plural of mitzvah) to be derived from the Hebrew Bible. The 613 are listed in Maimonides‘ Sefer Hamitzvot (Book of the Commandments), divided into “positive” (things one is required to do) and “negative” (things one may not do) commandments.”

I feel a positive charge in the Fall air, except for a certain legislator from West Virginia. Maybe Manchin is just a slow poke and he’ll see the light soon.

We gave the Love Bug a butterfly kit for her 9th birthday and she received her caterpillars last week. They’ll soon be emerging from their chrysalis to be released in their garden, joining the fuzzy bees tunneling into the outlandish, pink rose-of-sharon blooms.

Let’s hope that in the coming year all the anti-vaxxers and climate deniers, anti-semites and Islamaphobes find themselves overwhelmed by the hegemony of naturalists. By a love for the diversity of humans, animals and habitat.

Photo by Ola Maddams https://www.bbc.com/news/in-pictures-58327374

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While cleaning and decluttering my aviary, I discovered a wish list I had made back in February of 2002 while still in NJ. At that time my son was applying to college and my daughter was working at her first post-college job in DC. I was anticipating the dreaded Empty Nest syndrome. It was fun to read the 25 wishes; many have already come true! Though I do not have an agent or a cook…yet.

Strangely enough, the very first thing on my wish list is to get more organized! Which is exactly what I’m doing; I now know where every single utensil is in my kitchen, I have the perfect amount of towels, and I have thrown out all those files I kept of Rumson Borough Council meetings. I did however keep the random thank you note from readers. It’s always nice to know your copy was read, and not just used to line a bird cage. Newspapers, good stuff.

As you probably know I am NOT a list-maker. But I did pick up a book during the Cville Festival of the Book titled, “52 Lists for Happiness,” by Moorea Seal. Anita and I were talking about how we could have more fun during these Trumpconian years, how we could avoid being dragged down by politics. When I read on my Facebook feed yesterday that we had dropped the “Mother of All Bombs” on Afghanistan, during the holiest week for Christians and Jews, I thought it must be fake news. But I knew Gail, the person posting this, she is a devoted activist and feminist in her church and our community.

She held un umbrella over our heads when we marched in Cville to support Planned Parenthood. She helped organize our first trip to Richmond to march for women’s rights. Gail knows a thing or two. She probably makes lists because she knows how to get things done! Gail quoted a minister, Rev Emily Heath, who said:

Next time someone tells you this is a “Christian nation” remind them that we just bombed Afghanistan during Holy Week.

Specifically we did it on the day that Scripture tells us Christ said these words:

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35

Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.

Number 9 on my wish list was to have a “writing room.” A retreat from the world that was not just a corner of the dining room. As I sit here this morning looking at the journal I bought that might prompt me to make lists, I am profoundly afraid for our nation. We have an unpredictable President dropping bombs with alacrity, because his daughter was moved by dying Syrian babies, but not by a dead Syrian baby who washed up on a Greek island. But no, we can’t let Syrian refugees into our country. God Forbid.

At least Assad has decided to move civilians out of their war-torn cities, Sunnis go to Sunni territory and Shia go to Shia. That’s a step, to get the proxy war moving along. The Russians must be just as worried as we are! “The meeting in Moscow on Friday between Russian, Iranian and Syrian foreign ministers was the first held between the three allies since the US launched a missile attack on a Syrian airbase in response to the alleged chemical attack.” http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-39597630

I am now packing up my home, about to start a new chapter. What will I carry with me, what about all the Flapper’s correspondence? Yes. The elbow noodle pictures from preschool? Probably not. Will we be welcomed into a new community? Will people ask us, as they do all over the South, “What church do you belong to?”

Well, I belong to the church of peace and love, to the people who don’t run their lives by dogma or dietary dictates. I belong to my family of all colors and faiths. I belong to the sisterhood of brave, smart women. I’m going to start my first list – The Things That Make Me Happy Right Now:

Classical Music

Ms Bean

Birds Singing

The Mountains

Spring

The GIF of Our 2 yr Old Grandson Dancing

Bob in the Buddha Garden

IMG_0311

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Yesterday I got my car back. It was in the shop again, for four days, because it gave up the ghost in front of a coffee shop. Again. The first time it didn’t start, my ’99 navy Volvo was parked in front of a Starbucks. That was about a month ago. This time it was a Greenberry’s holding the blue baron captive; the local watering hole is the spot for town and gown to meet. The day my car was sprung, the day the mechanic told me to stay away from coffee shops and next time he’d bring a lighter so the old girl could go out in a blaze of glory, yesterday the humidity broke and it was an absolutely glorious day. I opened the sunroof along with the windows, and I felt like a teenager again, free – cocooned in my semi-safe, might stop at any moment jalopy.

Don’t ask me how I could jump from this seriously demented tale of a car and a coffee shop to the war in Afghanistan, but I’m going to try. I was listening to an ex-Marine, journalist speak at The Miller Center. This is their mission – “The Miller Center is a nonpartisan institute that seeks to expand understanding of the presidency, policy, and political history, providing critical insights for the nation’s governance challenges.” One of the most wonderful things about this town, is that these lectures are free to the public.

Matt Pottinger was working for the Wall Street Journal when he joined the Marines in 2005. He talked about how, contrary to what we might think, people who have had military experience of their own, are less likely to recommend going to war. But that when they do, they go all out. People who have not had any military experience, are more likely to want war….and then they want to go to war incrementally. Like hey, let’s order a no-fly zone, or a blockade. The guys with combat experience will go to war to win it! And we now have more legislators in DC without military experience than at any other time in history.

So here are my early morning thoughts. Can we actually win a war on terrorism? Isn’t it like saying we can win a war on drugs, or on crime? In my mind, I’d like to believe that the elite Seal and special ops troops, those 30 brave Americans  shot down this past weekend, did not die in vain. If we truly want to make life better for the Afghan people, if we want to help nurture a free and open society, an alternative to the Taliban’s rule of law, we had better learn their language and their customs; we had better build wells and hospitals and schools.

“In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved.”  ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

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