Monday, May 02, 2011

Thoughts on Osama (taken from my upcoming book)

May 1, 2011, late in the evening a yellow header flashes on the Yahoo News page. Osama Bin Laden is dead. I look at the words in disbelief. Such news so late on a Sunday evening? I click on the link to get more details. It is one of those moments in life you will remember, a monumental event that makes you stop everything. On Face Book the word spreads fast, my phone is beeping with all sorts of messages about Osama. One student in Toronto, students at colleges in Massachusetts and Kentucky, one in Kabul. We all can’t believe the news and share what we know as we await the President’s speech on the White House website. I post the news on Face Book and quickly former students from all over the world comment on it and soon it turns into a lively debate of comments about what this means for Afghanistan. Despite the happy news, some of my Afghans remain skeptical that anything will change in their country. Instead of an end to all the terrorism, someone new will step in to take over the reins and just to show the world that Al-Qaeda is not dead like bin Laden, that there will be new attacks. We shall see. For now the world rejoices at this news. I recall news images of people in the Middle East cheering and clapping after the attacks of 9/11. That made me the angriest, that somewhere in the world people were celebrating as my city was recovering from the worst thing it has ever seen. Now it was our time to celebrate, to cheer at the death of one man who was responsible for so much evil. On the other side of the world in enclaves in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and elsewhere, men devoted to Osama bin Laden are grieving their loss and try to piece their lives together and carry on. Will they put down their weapons, go home and get an education or will they pull deeper into the evil and terror that has become a normal a of life? The world waits, my Afghans wait, and in the meantime, we celebrate.

Afghanistan needs good news, and this surely is a source of happiness in a pessimistic world. There is a long road to go before Afghanistan sees the lightness of an educated, peaceful country, but this is a step in the right direction. Some may not see this as the right direction but it truly is. Afghanistan can no longer remain backwards, illiterate and ignorant. It is time that it stepped in to the 21st century. Modern times have ripped the lid off this country hermetically sealed in darkness and ignorance for so long. Like that French tightrope walker who traversed between the Twin Towers, Afghanistan walks a precarious rope. It can have a treacherous fall back into extremism and being terrorized by Al-Qaeda and other factions or it can keep going forward toward enlightenment, rational thought and progress. A generation has been lost to the horrors of war and the Taliban. It is not their fault, their education and dreams were snatched away from them. Someone younger will step in to change things, rebuild and make a difference in Afghanistan.
My Afghans will make that difference. They will be the generation that will make their country a strong, peaceful country. Even though some may be in Canada, America, Turkey, Pakistan, and other countries around the world, like the waters that flow down from the snow capped peaks throughout Afghanistan, they will come home. Water cannot be controlled and it flows where it wants to, but my Afghans know that wherever they go in the world, their path will lead them home. Now is not the time for many but it will be soon. Very soon.


Liz said...

Bravo, Tom, and thank you.

Anonymous said...

excellent thinking, Tom. Let's pray for no more terrorism. Jo M