Our Journey to Smile

Afghan peace needs a human face VII : Shir an Afghan Lion speaks of a great Afghan ‎need and An Afghan lion will be killed in the dark


Shir the Lion

Shir an Afghan Lion speaks of a great Afghan need


Salam, Shir Agha (Lion)!

Salam (peace) to you!

Shir Agha, is Afghanistan peaceful now or not?

It’s peaceful in Bamiyan but not in other places.

Why? Because of war, the killing of one another & money.

How important is money to you?

Not very important. I just need enough for food & clothes

What is important in life?

Love & friendship are important

Are the people of Afg in need of love & friendship?

Yes, we are in great need

Thank you. You’re welcome.

Be at peace!

Afghans are in great need of love & friendship

You can write to Shir Agha at journeytosmile@gmail.com

An Afghan lion will be killed in the dark


Marjan the one-eyed, lame, lone Kabul Lion

Like everyday thirst, Shir Agha wonders, “Is there anyone who loves?”

It’s not a question limited to fellow Afghans. It unashamedly asks, “Is there any one person who truly cares at all?”

Shir, which in Dari means lion, is saddened because at 19 years of age, he has concluded that, out of the 6.722 (July 2009 estimate) billion people on earth, he won’t be able to find a sincere friend.

‘A naïve, illogical conclusion. An impractical sorrow.’ is what conventional, mainstream non-Afghan ‘superpower experts ’on Afghanistan would say.

But Shir already knows that. He knows that power doesn’t lie with his human wish.

By design, power lies unrepresentatively with those we entitle ‘super’. Those with a successful outward appearance. Those beautiful, wealthy people wielding the latest IT gadgets and hogging the headlines.

In fact, the combined ‘armistice and wisdom’ of our modern world in 2009, lead by the coalition forces, would mock Shir by not even hearing him.

With the help of the ‘correct’ mass media, they would reassure the general public, including the invisible Shir, that ‘we are your friends’ and that ‘the best thing we can do for you now is to send our million-dollar weapons and armies to hunt down Osama and his unknown cronies, even though Osama hasn’t been seen in Afghanistan for years now. And we will always regret if we so happen to kill any of your innocent friends or countrymen.”

It’s un-defeat able mockery.

The majority of humanity, whose immediate instinct is to identify with Shir’s cry, would also fall silent or be silenced against this impregnable vengeful ‘logic’ of the 21st century, an ‘infallibility’ that insists on victory through endless tit for tats.

After all, Mankind has been through WWI, WWII and Hiroshima and has determined the ‘acceptable conventions and exemptions’ by which Man may kill Man.

But silence, being also subject to the herd rule, while having unquestioning space among the masses, does not in individual souls.

So, Shir need not submit to silence.

Because he knows that, killing, even prior to the ‘tablets’ of Moses, has always caused discomfort in the human heart.

And while most Afghans were relieved by the ‘chance but responsible’ bombardment ending of the Taliban horror mistakenly kick-started by the US, Shir knows that neither Osama nor his deputy are Afghan. He has also heard enough about September 11 to know that NONE of the ‘suicide plane hijackers’ were Afghans. He knows that being Afghan isn’t the point.

So do many Americans and others. But ironically, no Man can publicly beat this machinery which Man himself has set up.

Certainly not Shir.

Shir will just have to listen to and watch the ‘higher intellectual solutions’ which ‘the more civilized of Mankind’ has to offer.


Shir understands this much, having lived with violence, political play, corruption, self absorption, oppression, deception, lies and drugs for much of his young life. It’s all about another kind of love, the love of money and power.

You’re thinking that Shir is exaggerating about the extreme human behaviour and condition in Afghanistan.

Please, come live here.

“But Shir, you just have to go on. Trust us. We know what’s right and we know what’s terrible. We always do.”

There are now so many showbiz posters of presidential and provincial council election candidates on poorly built, cracked mud walls, none of whom Shir trusts and some of whom are familiar connivers, betrayers and warlords. He’s seen or not seen their actions and inactions.

Win the hearts and minds of Shir and his country folk? Gain their trust through more foreign words and deeds of Hollywood violence?

You’re thinking democracy? Free and fair elections?

Please, come live here.

And whatever politics or religion you may have, in this hellish corruption being tribally perfected with the capitalistic greed of maximum self benefit, you’ll accept that the poor like Shir will probably remain oppressively poor.

Karzai must be lauded for consoling himself and perhaps his nation by unexpectedly saying in the White House corridors of supremacy that, “This war against terrorism will succeed only if we fight it from a higher platform of morality. Money can’t buy you love, as you say it in America, no matter how much it is.”

You’re thinking development? Capacity building?

Please, come live here.

By this juncture in your reading, you’ve probably decided that Shir is un-lettered and must be anti-something or other, or the unknowing mouthpiece of shallow persuasions. We’ve become incapable of believing that Afghans could have a borderless, impartial wish for love and truth. Why?

Truth nowadays sounds silly, for example, the truth that every person, whether a ‘commoner’ or a ‘ruler’, of whatever race or nation, starts off as a baby who thrives on his mother’s love.

Because Shir understands this truth with an uncomplicated spirit, he is NOT wondering if people, ‘commoners’ or ‘rulers’, ‘terrorized’ or ‘terrorizing’, are desiring of or capable of love.

The Lion is just asking, “Where on earth is this love?”

The same way Marjan, the one-eyed lone lion who had lent dignity to Kabul Zoo, after surviving years of war and neglect, could have asked if only he could have, “You humans talk about love and freedom, but where on earth are these?”

Shir is hoping against hope that fellow humans wish for the same good things so badly that they’d want to be friends.

The disappointment is that the ‘conventional and normalized’ methodologies to achieve those same good things seem to be solitary fortresses carved out by the few babies who grew up to be rich and dominant, often at all costs.

And they take on all kinds of labels, political left to right labels, religious eastern, middle eastern to western labels and then unwittingly, they become each others’ ‘enemies’! All quite far from the child-like instincts they once had. And very far from Shir’s remnant longing.

This clinical enmity is now mechanized by human-less drones. Drones don’t have to relate; in fact, they conveniently cannot.

Relations and friendships between ‘enemies’ don’t exist for the most part; in that vacuum is hate and anger. And بی وجدان , an Afghan insult pronounced ‘bay-ujdaan’ and meaning ‘without conscience’.

This is the frightening in-humanity Shir lives in, in which life contradicts conscience.

Wherever he looks and whatever he hears persuades him that only God, whom he cannot see or hear or touch, is merciful. How pray tell is that helpful or encouraging, especially in a destitute tribal community where tangible relationships are all that a person has?

Life becomes tasteless, harsh and lonely.

So, Shir goes to school while he still has a chance. He tries to find some fun in using a cell phone, but there’s no one to call to and no one to call him.

It’s meaningless. To have nothing and no one to live for.

“Why does the international community hate our meaningless lives so much? What have we done? Most of us can’t even afford to travel to another Afghan province, so how have we angered those in other countries, across those oceans we’ve never seen from our land-locked birthplace?”

How can people understand Afghans without knowing them? Is understanding gained by killing Afghans way before greetings of ‘salam’ ( peace ) ?

Shir cries sometimes.

He cries because despite these normal challenges, he really needs to find some common sense and humanity in order to survive.

But any ‘commoner’ or ‘ruler’ who enters the global fortresses of established deceptions soon becomes their defendant.

This ‘commoner’ or ‘ruler’ disappears into it. And though, at the end of each day, he yearns for the same sort of true friendship as Shir does, the power and opulence of the fortress confuses him.

So, he puts on his politician’s shoes or his soldier’s helmet, heads off to defend ‘the just world’ he longs for and dreams about.

And as he patrols the deserted, God and Man-forsaken dirt hills of Afghanistan, his fear of losing all whom he loves brings such a natural burden of help-lessness into his young heart that when he sees an equally panicky Shir scuttling away from talking to his Taliban-look alike- friend, he fires with all the ‘superior, correct, right, spot-on accuracy’ that the advanced, free world has trained him to unleash.

He will kill the Afghan lion and the world will remain in the dark.


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