Afghanistan: The Power Of The People This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

May 29, 2011
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Well, believe it or not, I’m writing this month’s column while sitting on a plane headed towards Florida. For a vacation day, it’s annoyingly early (1 P.M.).

I don’t even know why I procrastinated this; it’s not like this is some boring English assignment. I actually have quite a lot of fun writing this column. It’s only the editing that’s a pain sometimes.

Anyway, I’m starving, and all this flight has is ginger ale and pretzels. I know airplanes get a bad rep, but a lot of it is well deserved. However, one thing people tend underrate is how unbearably dry airplanes are. The air is dry, the food is dry. Heck, even the water feels dry.

Sitting in the aisle across from me is an over-pierced, over-tattooed guy who’s playing really alternative videos on his laptop and simultaneously working on some horrific artwork. He keeps glancing at me, and it’s becoming borderline creepy. Poor kid’s obviously listened to too much Eminem in his pre-pubescent years and is now taking his rage out on the world, one stewardess at a time.

You know what? The more I think about it, the more I realize that I need to stop complaining about these stupid little things. I’ll tell you why I’ve had this sudden revelation. (Cue intense action-movie soundtrack.)

We’ve been watching some documentaries about the plight of children in Afghanistan during my Global Conflict class, and, relatively, none of our daily problems even come even close to what they have to endure.

School isn’t really the place where people become emotional, but it was extremely difficult to take in all the tragic information at once. Reading about it is one thing, but actually seeing the grim images is another.

Unlike most westerners’ perceptions, Afghanistan is a very diverse place- racially, religiously and socially. This has resulted in a wonderful culturally-diffused population, but sadly, it’s human nature to dislike people different than you. The very same diversity that makes a place like Brookline so unique, has lead to Afghanistan’s downfall.

The Taliban has dragged Afghanistan to one of it’s worst periods in history. Women are being denied education, not just in universities but even in basic reading and writing. The government is corrupt beyond control; you can’t win an election without bribery. Young men are being targeted into becoming suicide-bombers, a choice they wouldn’t have considered if their situation wasn’t so dire in the first place. Many schools have no buildings, and students have to learn while sitting out in the sand.

To say that we aren’t doing anything about the problem isn’t completely true; after all, billions of dollars go to foreign aid from the U.S. Unfortunately, too much of it ends up in the hands of greedy politicians, not the needy.

It’s a tough situation, there’s no doubt about that. Leave things alone, and they’ll only escalate and get worse. Interfere, and you’ll be tagged as a hostile nation. At the end of the day, I’m confident enough in the power of people to say that no matter how big the Taliban gets, there will always be those brave citizens of Afghanistan to counter them.

If you want to learn more about the issue, check out the PBS Frontline website, which has the documentaries I referred to. I’d also recommend Stones Into Schools by Greg Mortenson, which is a moving book about building schools in Afghanistan.





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