Our Journey to Smile

Afghanistan, A dying opportunity to free the waterfall


A dying opportunity to free the waterfall

In this dream of a kinder world, ordinary people from all races and nations take a dying opportunity to gather at the World Heritage Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan on International Peace Day 21st September 2009,

to hope for peace and reject violence.

And against all odds and dams, to free the waterfall.


I myself can no longer trust words, so you need not trust these thoughts. What I can trust, having lived and worked among Afghans as a Singaporean medical doctor, is that I’ve become more human and therefore in the words of my Afghan friends, more Afghan, and perhaps more ‘of any other nationality’.

I and my Afghan friends have a waterfall of humane dreams and wishes in which we are grieving, crying and hurting badly.

If we describe this waterfall to the ‘elected’ leaders of our self-designated ‘civilized’ societies, we’ll be told their version of the ‘truth’.

‘Justice’ when they mean revenge.

‘Help’ when they mean money.

‘Democracy’ when they mean power.

If we describe it to the self-designated ‘best’ religious people, we face a similarly rigid monopoly of ‘truth’.

‘Justice’ when they mean ‘no matter if you die or kill because justice is in the other world’.

‘Help’ when they mean ‘come over to our better side’.

‘Theocracy’ when they mean power.

So, we have had to let our dreams, grief and tears become an invisible, un-felt waterfall. A silence. A dying.

This country and our humanity are in need of a pause in the dying.

The dying of love, truth, hope and dear ones killed in violent war. Love, truth, hope and violence for WHAT?

If we look towards our self-designated ‘learned’ ones for possible solutions, they say ‘dam up the waterfall to give yourselves light’. Light for what, when what we badly need is the waterfall.

In present day Afghanistan, from where I’m writing, there may be a ridiculous and potentially painful opportunity to free this waterfall. At least, humour me as I pacify myself and my Afghan friends by imagining the opportunity presented by:

  1. The Global Great Game that is being played here ‘live’, a horrid ‘reality show’.

All major world players are involved.

  1. The contradiction of war and peace watched by the world

The ordinary world community is watching Afghanistan distantly but closely, wondering if war will reign or if ‘peace’ is possible, especially when Afg-Pak has become the military, political and economic focus of superpowers.

Hopefully, we’re not watching primarily for entertainment; I just read that violence is dominating at the Cannes Film Festival 2009.

3. The question of humanity in inhumanity

Does Mankind have enough of a majority populace keen to restore some semblance of humanity in the midst of inhumanity?

“Don’t be silly,” I’ve thought.

We’ll be misunderstood and laughed at as illogical and unrealistic or as anti-this or anti-that.

People will continue to ‘label’ us because the prideful intellectual development of Mankind can only understand human beings in categories so as to dispel fears and channel criticism.

In the current universal climate of distrust and soul-less herd behavior, hardly anyone would hear us.

What can ordinary human beings do anyway, ordinary humans who make up most of the world ( I bet many outside Afghanistan have forgotten that the majority here are also ordinary humans with wishes for a normal life ).

Or like many fellow international aid workers, I may become un-productively frustrated, harbouring the explosive un-resolved anger that’s in the hidden and open protests of conscience globally, even among ‘peace’ building groups.

Or worse, I could succumb to the ancient, distorted hunger for a Name, doing this selfishly merely for myself, defeating any sense of service I can muster.

Not to mention the almost complete self-deception, corruption, greed and the culture of war worldwide, perceived by some as perfected in Afghanistan.

But then one day, as I was riding my Chinese-made Tonda motorbike over the Afghan Hindu Kush mountain dirt pot-holes, I remembered that Man has gone to the moon, tapped atoms and bytes and modified genes and that countries are sending thousands of elaborately armed troops and billions of military dollars to this God-forsaken place for poorly understood personal and national reasons.

So I thought, “What the heck!”

I can try this for love of Khamad, Nasrullah and some others….

I can hope.

I can pursue those virtues every human soul dreams about and even if it fails, I hope that this experiment will not harm anyone.

I can test to see if uncomplicated love and undefended truth can free our ordinary, mundane wishes.

I can accept the ‘shame’ of rejection in asking peacemakers from all over the world to please join us at the Bamiyan Buddhas on 21st Sept 09.

I know. This may mean nothing to you. Or understandably, you do not believe that any sense or goodness can arise from what is condemned to be a very dark place.

But I wish to record this, so that, as my Afghan friends and I perish, first in our hearts, then physically, I can at least say that we voiced the opportunity and the opportunity died too.

And that if, one day, against all odds and dams, the waterfalls are freed, all Afghans and some of humanity may be encouraged to weep for life and death once again.

To record, that even in the ‘darkest and driest of places’, there exists waterfalls.


Our Journey to Smile



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