Our Journey to Smile


A relational response to Obama’s Cairo speech from peacemaker in Afghanistan to Egyptian Arab Muslim friend‎

Egyptian Arab Muslim Mt Sinai

A personal letter from a Peacemaker in Afghanistan to Shereef, my Egyptian Arab Muslim friend

A relational response to American Christian President Obama’s speech to Muslims in Cairo, Egypt

Dear Shereef,

It was as I sought to understand the language of the Muslim world that I fatefully bumped into you over a mummified cat at the ancient Egyptian Museum in Cairo years ago. Personal histories past and present, cultures and most of all, hearts met as you described how you were as trapped as that preserved animal.

I’m certain that there was as much or as little ‘fear’, ‘mistrust’ or ‘suspicion’ in me as in you. But I think that you and I were both somewhat ‘conscious of God’ and the human struggles in one another and as we spoke frankly with each other, we became friends.

Now, I’m willing to put up with potential misunderstanding and labeling from others in stating that I do love and treasure you.

Not because of the circumstances of your ‘trap’ or the abysmal lack of love and truth among the major faiths of our 21st century, but because you, Shereef, Egyptian Arabic teacher, married with 2 daughters and with conservative and kind elderly parents, have become a friend, a person, a fellow human soul I can relate freely with.

You cope with your challenges, I cope with mine.

And though we dreamily wish to live as neighbors someday, I remain unmarried and ‘free’ in a village in Afghanistan and you remain married and ‘trapped’ in a village in Egypt.

We’ve talked much and I had described you to S’porean and Afghan friends as having the mind of the ‘ancient engineers’ who designed the pyramids.

I think we have to live with the ‘scourge’ of a dis-empathetic world, that while we uncover child-like truths hidden by surface pomp and rhetoric, we can merely ‘cry’ and be ‘depressed’ together.

We mustn’t forget to take comfort in the wisdom of the shepherds who tend their flocks on the vast plains and mountains, the subsistence farmer who wants just enough water for the land and food for the table and the undemanding laborer who can’t quite count his wages, all equally powerless to fulfill their ideals despite their simple human depth.

Yesterday, in your capital, Obama offered a new beginning in relations with the Muslim world and spoke about violent extremism, Israel-Palestinian/Arab tensions, nuclear weapons, democracy, religious freedom and economic development and opportunity.

I’m glad Obama offered a hand of conciliation and emphasized the ‘golden rule’ of ‘ treating others as we would have them treat us’, because all leaders and more importantly, ordinary folk like you and I, need to concretely undo the extreme global and individual ‘distrust’ and to constantly meet the eternal need for peace and friendship in our very short lives.

1. Violent Extremism

My discomfort is that Obama spoke of it as if it were more a trait of Afghans or Afghanistan or of ‘others’ and that he may be betraying the ‘golden rule’ already.

I pray that no American or NATO soldier would come to these quiet hills I live on and in a moment of war-like frenzy and self-preservation, that he would NOT mistake some of my ‘insurgent-look-alike’ neighbors as killing targets. His single act of violence would bring out the capacity for violence found in all human beings and Shereef, none of us can then control the taking of lives.

If that ever happens and I’m caught in the cross-fire or the nicer-sounding ‘collateral damage’, I may then not have the chance or fortitude to tell you the in-humane stories that would have unfolded, again and again as it has throughout human history. A history student doesn’t necessarily learn that.

Weapons and violence recognize and differentiate no Man.

Violence CANNOT be overcome by violence.

‘Poor’ Obama. He expressed the paranoia of America about others and others about America when he said that in Afghanistan laid the ‘American goal that needed to be confident that there were no violent extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can’.

When will that ‘democratic’ American goal be achieved, that is, how many non-violent, ordinary Afghans ( out of 30 million ) need to be left surviving this war before America’s ‘confidence’ of safety can be satisfied? The tragedy is that some of these ‘insurgents’ aren’t even Afghans. How many of those who flew into the Empire State Buildings were Afghans? Who ARE the violent extremists?

Unfortunately, few democratic, communist, socialist or fascist citizens would ask these questions of their democratic, communist, socialist or fascist leaders. Much fewer are the answers.

Our current age has established conventions, leagues and treaties to govern and guide the way we continue conducting and perfecting our war techniques within the acceptable rules of violence, wars to be seen as just by all conflicting parties involved and rules which under extraordinary renditions, can be circumvented or re-invented.

Let me sidetrack.

I had returned once to S’pore and my university lecturer-friend had invited me to a talk by a prominent American expert on Sino-US Affairs. I forget his name but he was from a high level ‘think-thank’ advising Washington on China. The participants must have shared my urge to walk out of the slanted, shallow paranoia this American intellectual expressed when he declared that the ‘Red Army’s goal was to kill as many Americans as possible’ and that therefore America would not allow Europe to sell arms to the Chinese.

I’ll leave this till after this wild, wild west /wild, wild east scenario bursts out in the future and before this ‘intellectualism’ overwhelms us.

You and I know, together with the majority of Mankind, that every human being has a violent and paranoid streak. Because violence and paranoia are largely relational, we cannot overcome these with more violence. We need to get to know each other, build those no-agenda, humane friendships person by person till a critical public practice of peaceful relations is attained.

Our modern age has the tools to build those ties ; internet, long-distance conferencing, web-cam and e-chatting, quick transportation and numerous academic institutions everywhere ( I’m confident that there are more ordinary, moderate academic institutions that can promote non-violence than there are ‘extreme’ ones ).

I do not believe that nations, made cumulatively of human beings, are animals which function on different virtues and challenges of human relations.

2. Israel-Palestinian/Arab tensions

I’ll have to listen to your thoughts on this, Shereef. As I have come to admire your heart and mind, I must say that we need to encourage each other to look beyond history and names.

We cannot speak as if Israelis are not as wronged, hurt or displaced as Palestinians just as we cannot speak as if Israelis are not as capable of violence as Palestinians.

Violent conflict and war has become the culture of our times!

If I hurt you, I need to apologize and also to grieve with a transformational attitude, not because you are an Arab Muslim, but because universal friendship and respect matter to me.

I hope Obama does not get distracted by ‘unbreakable alliances’ or enmities, because these are ultimately less basic and broad than the human to human ties everyone can share.

I have no practical insight into this centuries-old dilemma but I remember how you reminded me about the primacy of love while we were descending Mt Sinai together.

An Arab couple, probably Egyptians, were angrily destroying the triangular stone prayer mounds which were scattered along the pebbly path down. You asked and they replied, “The Israelis come here and claim this mountain as theirs by building these stone mounds. We will not allow it and we would have them know that this mountain is NOT theirs!”

As they stormed by, you remarked, “But these are just STONES.” You could not have expected them to understand that in their fury.

A second later, you turned to me and said, “How can anyone who does not have the love of God in his heart know God?”

I pray for grace as these tensions are worked out person by person, painstakingly and patiently.

3. Nuclear Weapons

I applaud and support Obama’s wish for a ‘nuclear arms-free world’.

Any country promoting a nuclear arms-free world would need to swallow the hard and humbling fact that disarming must start on its own turf and in its own backyard. No action other that example would convince ‘allies’ or ‘foes’ otherwise.

We shouldn’t be-labor ourselves too much over this rather shameful ‘regress’ of Mankind’s knowledge and technology.
4. True democracy

This can be as interesting and convoluted as the first ‘Republic’ discussions Aristotle and Plato had.

I’m not a political science student. I grew up in what I think was a Socialist Democracy and I’m grateful for that but I’m unqualified to comment on such enormous concepts.

I can observe though that the growth of good governance seems slow and I can guess that perhaps human nature is a core issue. Forms of governance may have to evolve and devolve as we grasp the limitations of Mankind’s good but deceitful heart.

And I am a witness to the Global Great Game being played in Afghanistan.

Some shell of a ‘parliamentary democracy’ has been set up under President Karzai over the forever tribal kingdoms found in the artificial land state-area called Afghanistan.

Try playing the Afghan national game of Buzkashi and we’ll quickly know the humorous difficulty of bringing American style ‘democracy’ to this freedom-loving, proud people.

Foreigners who export themselves elsewhere truly and erroneously believe that they know what’s best for locals, be they Afghans or any other ‘dominated’ national.

Here, war lords, drug lords and normal lords will compete with muscle and foreign money, lies and more lies, for largely illiterate votes. Foreign finances will be used on an electoral system that is unlikely to bring any semblance of a ‘government of the people by the people’.

This game will be played out under the current decay of incorruptible corruption, utter dependence-manipulation and universal drugs, aggravated by the scattered political, economic and military agendas of the US with a coalition (more like a division) of 46 countries.

The dominant elements of the Great Game are clearly not a ‘government of the Afghan people by the Afghan people’.

How can ‘education in democracy’ happen without ‘local assimilation and language’?

How can ‘democracy’ be birthed through ‘un-democratic and often violent’ means?

Shereef, I often wonder about what the majority of ordinary Americans think about such an important issue as sending 68,000 of their sons and daughters to a wild country like Afghanistan and spending 96.7 billion of their tax money on wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (Islamic hot-spots which are part of the Muslim world that Obama wants a new beginning with)?

Perhaps, if Obama’s admin wanted to stretch true democracy back home, they should put this issue up for a US national referendum. We would then understand better what democratic Americans really want, especially the ‘Christians’. We can hope not to be disappointed by American humanity.

I have to empathize with ‘poor’ Obama again. I wish to encourage him as a fellow human being by asking him to listen as he says he would, not as the 52.9%-elected President of USA but as a human person, first to his own heart and then also to the ordinary voices of the Afghans he is ‘fighting against ’ (physically very different from ‘forging peace with’ ).

How can ‘independent sovereignty and democracy’ be gained from within ‘domination’? I sense that you struggle with this in your own country. Gordon Brown is having some domestic parliamentary problems now. Would he like some Afghans or ex-colonized Indians to go over to restore some order, however benevolent or well-meaning they may be?

5. Religious Freedom

In this regard, I’ll say, ‘Avoid the religious cages.’

Shereef, I’m glad your ‘imagination’ is too ‘alive’ to adhere to religious codes and dogmas, which themselves require supervisory codes and dogmas, leading to greater un-enlightenment and darkness.

Which state law can alter the way we ‘treat others as we would have them treat us’? Civilization must begin to pursue the relational essence of religion and freedom and not harp or pressurize others over cages of religious terms and symbols.

Does religion or God or love disappear under the most restrictive rules or in prisons?

I wish to say this next thing in the best way I can, because I don’t want to be judgmental or accusatory. If religious freedom is the freedom which gave the presidents of USA and Iran the liberty to label others ‘evil’ and ‘give orders to kill’ without accountability and with impunity, I’d rather not have those forms of religious freedom, thank you!

In this too, I take comfort in your friendship, because even if and when you see the ‘darker side of me’, I trust you would not call me ‘evil’, far less kill me.

6. Economic development and opportunity

Sorry, I was getting a little ‘clinical and cold’, so let me say that these musings cannot replace or compare with our friendship.

I was reminded of this human connection recently by my Afghan friend Ali Mohd. I had been busy and had not contacted him for a month or so.

Ali Mohd and I enjoy each other’s company and exchange of ideas. But to him, our time listening to each other’s stories is far more important than my analysis, advice regarding his family’s ‘economic development’ or my help.

I finally caught up with him 3 days ago. He confessed politely that he had been disappointed when I had missed picking up his phone call a few weeks back. An Afghan friend had fuelled his doubts by advising, “Never give place in your heart to a foreigner. In the end, they will not be your loyal friends. You’ll be hurt.” Ali Mohd was really alluding to the centrality of relationships and community in the Central Asian Muslim world.

As he divulged his heartfelt unease, he said plainly, “Hakim, you must understand, that we Afghans, having lived through years of war, don’t want to admit that we are in dire need of genuine, sincere love. You should have picked up my phone call.”

I also remember 13 year old Shamsullah, who just died and got buried in a name-less grave in my village. He died of a cancer which his family did not have money to seek treatment for.

I will not forget your frequent mention of the lack of opportunities, economic and personal. And how I would feel sad and trapped along with you.

Shereef, I too want to imagine the utopian world where wealth is more equitably shared. I am pained that you cannot get better re-numeration for your noble job of teaching ( I’m confident that you are a good teacher ) just as I am pained that 96.7 billion American dollars will be spent for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq while 2.8 billion will be spent developing the Afghan economy and services. The disparity is incongruent and unconscionable.

But we have to do what we can.

I’ve begun a small potato chips producing shop with my Afghan farmer pal Mohd Hussein, whatever the irrelevant G20 decisions were.

I’m sorry I had to ask you to use your writer’s creativity to ‘think away’ your lack of opportunities. But we ARE dealing with more than we can handle in economic systems that will always thrive on the individual SELF over the many others.

Please continue in the truth that your profession and honest livelihood, however meager it may seem, has an earthly and other-worldly dignity and happiness that no dollar can add to or take away.

Please remember that your life as an individual and father and son of a beautiful family in modern day Egypt and as a Muslim seeking to be dutiful to God and Man, is more valuable than the temporary gold and false status which any soul-less state, system or religion can buy you. At least to me, your friend, by now your brother in the Afghan proverbial world.

And if all else fails in our effort to live normal, ordinary lives, just as with Shamsullah, when ‘greater economic opportunities’ J come my way, I should at least meet you again, to have ‘filafils’ and tea with you, to laugh over our chats and follies, to be closer friends for a while and therefore hopefully for good.

As Obama rightly identified, people just don’t trust people anymore.

So perhaps, above letters and speeches, we should find hope in our friendship and the dream of similar friendships multiplying in a wide-scale everywhere. I hope you can trust my heart; that’ll be one less distrustful relationship in a crazy, hurting world.

May the peace of the Koran, Talmud and Bible, whose meaning and practice has been abused by words, inaction and antagonistic action for so long, be given a struggling chance.

As always, love you!

Hakim/Young

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Full text of President Obama’s Cairo speech in Egypt titled “A New Beginning.” ‎

Obama Egypt speech

Below, the full text of President Obama’s speech in Cairo, Egypt, titled “A New Beginning.”

I am honored to be in the timeless city of Cairo, and to be hosted by two remarkable institutions. For over a thousand years, Al-Azhar has stood as a beacon of Islamic learning, and for over a century, Cairo University has been a source of Egypt’s advancement. Together, you represent the harmony between tradition and progress. I am grateful for your hospitality, and the hospitality of the people of Egypt. I am also proud to carry with me the goodwill of the American people, and a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in my country: assalaamu alaykum.

We meet at a time of tension between the United States and Muslims around the world – tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate. The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of co-existence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars. More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.

Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims. The attacks of September 11th, 2001 and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians has led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries, but also to human rights. This has bred more fear and mistrust.

So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, and who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. This cycle of suspicion and discord must end.

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// I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles – principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.

I do so recognizing that change cannot happen overnight. No single speech can eradicate years of mistrust, nor can I answer in the time that I have all the complex questions that brought us to this point. But I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly the things we hold in our hearts, and that too often are said only behind closed doors. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground. As the Holy Koran tells us, “Be conscious of God and speak always the truth.” That is what I will try to do – to speak the truth as best I can, humbled by the task before us, and firm in my belief that the interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that drive us apart.

Part of this conviction is rooted in my own experience. I am a Christian, but my father came from a Kenyan family that includes generations of Muslims. As a boy, I spent several years in Indonesia and heard the call of the azaan at the break of dawn and the fall of dusk. As a young man, I worked in Chicago communities where many found dignity and peace in their Muslim faith.

As a student of history, I also know civilization’s debt to Islam. It was Islam – at places like Al-Azhar University – that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment. It was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing; our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed. Islamic culture has given us majestic arches and soaring spires; timeless poetry and cherished music; elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful contemplation. And throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.

I know, too, that Islam has always been a part of America’s story. The first nation to recognize my country was Morocco. In signing the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796, our second President John Adams wrote, “The United States has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Muslims.” And since our founding, American Muslims have enriched the United States. They have fought in our wars, served in government, stood for civil rights, started businesses, taught at our Universities, excelled in our sports arenas, won Nobel Prizes, built our tallest building, and lit the Olympic Torch. And when the first Muslim-American was recently elected to Congress, he took the oath to defend our Constitution using the same Holy Koran that one of our Founding Fathers – Thomas Jefferson – kept in his personal library.

So I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed. That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn’t. And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.

But that same principle must apply to Muslim perceptions of America. Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire. The United States has been one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known. We were born out of revolution against an empire. We were founded upon the ideal that all are created equal, and we have shed blood and struggled for centuries to give meaning to those words – within our borders, and around the world. We are shaped by every culture, drawn from every end of the Earth, and dedicated to a simple concept: E pluribus unum: “Out of many, one.”

Much has been made of the fact that an African-American with the name Barack Hussein Obama could be elected President. But my personal story is not so unique. The dream of opportunity for all people has not come true for everyone in America, but its promise exists for all who come to our shores – that includes nearly seven million American Muslims in our country today who enjoy incomes and education that are higher than average.

Moreover, freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one’s religion. That is why there is a mosque in every state of our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders. That is why the U.S. government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab, and to punish those who would deny it.

So let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America. And I believe that America holds within her the truth that regardless of race, religion, or station in life, all of us share common aspirations – to live in peace and security; to get an education and to work with dignity; to love our families, our communities, and our God. These things we share. This is the hope of all humanity.

Of course, recognizing our common humanity is only the beginning of our task. Words alone cannot meet the needs of our people. These needs will be met only if we act boldly in the years ahead; and if we understand that the challenges we face are shared, and our failure to meet them will hurt us all.

For we have learned from recent experience that when a financial system weakens in one country, prosperity is hurt everywhere. When a new flu infects one human being, all are at risk. When one nation pursues a nuclear weapon, the risk of nuclear attack rises for all nations. When violent extremists operate in one stretch of mountains, people are endangered across an ocean. And when innocents in Bosnia and Darfur are slaughtered, that is a stain on our collective conscience. That is what it means to share this world in the 21st century. That is the responsibility we have to one another as human beings.

This is a difficult responsibility to embrace. For human history has often been a record of nations and tribes subjugating one another to serve their own interests. Yet in this new age, such attitudes are self-defeating. Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners of it. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; progress must be shared.

That does not mean we should ignore sources of tension. Indeed, it suggests the opposite: we must face these tensions squarely. And so in that spirit, let me speak as clearly and plainly as I can about some specific issues that I believe we must finally confront together.

The first issue that we have to confront is violent extremism in all of its forms.

In Ankara, I made clear that America is not – and never will be – at war with Islam. We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security. Because we reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject: the killing of innocent men, women, and children. And it is my first duty as President to protect the American people.

The situation in Afghanistan demonstrates America’s goals, and our need to work together. Over seven years ago, the United States pursued al Qaeda and the Taliban with broad international support. We did not go by choice, we went because of necessity. I am aware that some question or justify the events of 9/11. But let us be clear: al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on that day. The victims were innocent men, women and children from America and many other nations who had done nothing to harm anybody. And yet Al Qaeda chose to ruthlessly murder these people, claimed credit for the attack, and even now states their determination to kill on a massive scale. They have affiliates in many countries and are trying to expand their reach. These are not opinions to be debated; these are facts to be dealt with.

Make no mistake: we do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan. We seek no military bases there. It is agonizing for America to lose our young men and women. It is costly and politically difficult to continue this conflict. We would gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were not violent extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can. But that is not yet the case.

That’s why we’re partnering with a coalition of forty-six countries. And despite the costs involved, America’s commitment will not weaken. Indeed, none of us should tolerate these extremists. They have killed in many countries. They have killed people of different faiths – more than any other, they have killed Muslims. Their actions are irreconcilable with the rights of human beings, the progress of nations, and with Islam. The Holy Koran teaches that whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind; and whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind. The enduring faith of over a billion people is so much bigger than the narrow hatred of a few. Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism – it is an important part of promoting peace.

We also know that military power alone is not going to solve the problems in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That is why we plan to invest $1.5 billion each year over the next five years to partner with Pakistanis to build schools and hospitals, roads and businesses, and hundreds of millions to help those who have been displaced. And that is why we are providing more than $2.8 billion to help Afghans develop their economy and deliver services that people depend upon.

Let me also address the issue of Iraq. Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq was a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world. Although I believe that the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, I also believe that events in Iraq have reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible. Indeed, we can recall the words of Thomas Jefferson, who said: “I hope that our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us that the less we use our power the greater it will be.”

Today, America has a dual responsibility: to help Iraq forge a better future – and to leave Iraq to Iraqis. I have made it clear to the Iraqi people that we pursue no bases, and no claim on their territory or resources. Iraq’s sovereignty is its own. That is why I ordered the removal of our combat brigades by next August. That is why we will honor our agreement with Iraq’s democratically-elected government to remove combat troops from Iraqi cities by July, and to remove all our troops from Iraq by 2012. We will help Iraq train its Security Forces and develop its economy. But we will support a secure and united Iraq as a partner, and never as a patron.

And finally, just as America can never tolerate violence by extremists, we must never alter our principles. 9/11 was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our ideals. We are taking concrete actions to change course. I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States, and I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year.

So America will defend itself respectful of the sovereignty of nations and the rule of law. And we will do so in partnership with Muslim communities which are also threatened. The sooner the extremists are isolated and unwelcome in Muslim communities, the sooner we will all be safer.

The second major source of tension that we need to discuss is the situation between Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world.

America’s strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.

Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust. Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich. Six million Jews were killed – more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, ignorant, and hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction – or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews – is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.

On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people – Muslims and Christians – have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations – large and small – that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.

For decades, there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive. It is easy to point fingers – for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought by Israel’s founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond. But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth: the only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security.

That is in Israel’s interest, Palestine’s interest, America’s interest, and the world’s interest. That is why I intend to personally pursue this outcome with all the patience that the task requires. The obligations that the parties have agreed to under the Road Map are clear. For peace to come, it is time for them – and all of us – to live up to our responsibilities.

Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America’s founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia. It’s a story with a simple truth: that violence is a dead end. It is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered.

Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build. The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people. Hamas does have support among some Palestinians, but they also have responsibilities. To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, and to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, and recognize Israel’s right to exist.

At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel’s right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine’s. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.

Israel must also live up to its obligations to ensure that Palestinians can live, and work, and develop their society. And just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel’s security; neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West Bank. Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress.

Finally, the Arab States must recognize that the Arab Peace Initiative was an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities. The Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems. Instead, it must be a cause for action to help the Palestinian people develop the institutions that will sustain their state; to recognize Israel’s legitimacy; and to choose progress over a self-defeating focus on the past.

America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs. We cannot impose peace. But privately, many Muslims recognize that Israel will not go away. Likewise, many Israelis recognize the need for a Palestinian state. It is time for us to act on what everyone knows to be true.

Too many tears have flowed. Too much blood has been shed. All of us have a responsibility to work for the day when the mothers of Israelis and Palestinians can see their children grow up without fear; when the Holy Land of three great faiths is the place of peace that God intended it to be; when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed (peace be upon them) joined in prayer.

The third source of tension is our shared interest in the rights and responsibilities of nations on nuclear weapons.

This issue has been a source of tension between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran. For many years, Iran has defined itself in part by its opposition to my country, and there is indeed a tumultuous history between us. In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically-elected Iranian government. Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians. This history is well known. Rather than remain trapped in the past, I have made it clear to Iran’s leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward. The question, now, is not what Iran is against, but rather what future it wants to build.

It will be hard to overcome decades of mistrust, but we will proceed with courage, rectitude and resolve. There will be many issues to discuss between our two countries, and we are willing to move forward without preconditions on the basis of mutual respect. But it is clear to all concerned that when it comes to nuclear weapons, we have reached a decisive point. This is not simply about America’s interests. It is about preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that could lead this region and the world down a hugely dangerous path.

I understand those who protest that some countries have weapons that others do not. No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons. That is why I strongly reaffirmed America’s commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons. And any nation – including Iran – should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That commitment is at the core of the Treaty, and it must be kept for all who fully abide by it. And I am hopeful that all countries in the region can share in this goal.

The fourth issue that I will address is democracy.

I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear: no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other.

That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people. Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election. But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.

There is no straight line to realize this promise. But this much is clear: governments that protect these rights are ultimately more stable, successful and secure. Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them. And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments – provided they govern with respect for all their people.

This last point is important because there are some who advocate for democracy only when they are out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others. No matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who hold power: you must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.

The fifth issue that we must address together is religious freedom.

Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance. We see it in the history of Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition. I saw it firsthand as a child in Indonesia, where devout Christians worshiped freely in an overwhelmingly Muslim country. That is the spirit we need today. People in every country should be free to choose and live their faith based upon the persuasion of the mind, heart, and soul. This tolerance is essential for religion to thrive, but it is being challenged in many different ways.

Among some Muslims, there is a disturbing tendency to measure one’s own faith by the rejection of another’s. The richness of religious diversity must be upheld – whether it is for Maronites in Lebanon or the Copts in Egypt. And fault lines must be closed among Muslims as well, as the divisions between Sunni and Shia have led to tragic violence, particularly in Iraq.

Freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together. We must always examine the ways in which we protect it. For instance, in the United States, rules on charitable giving have made it harder for Muslims to fulfill their religious obligation. That is why I am committed to working with American Muslims to ensure that they can fulfill zakat.

Likewise, it is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practicing religion as they see fit – for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear. We cannot disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretence of liberalism.

Indeed, faith should bring us together. That is why we are forging service projects in America that bring together Christians, Muslims, and Jews. That is why we welcome efforts like Saudi Arabian King Abdullah’s Interfaith dialogue and Turkey’s leadership in the Alliance of Civilizations. Around the world, we can turn dialogue into Interfaith service, so bridges between peoples lead to action – whether it is combating malaria in Africa, or providing relief after a natural disaster.

The sixth issue that I want to address is women’s rights.

I know there is debate about this issue. I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal, but I do believe that a woman who is denied an education is denied equality. And it is no coincidence that countries where women are well-educated are far more likely to be prosperous.

Now let me be clear: issues of women’s equality are by no means simply an issue for Islam. In Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia, we have seen Muslim-majority countries elect a woman to lead. Meanwhile, the struggle for women’s equality continues in many aspects of American life, and in countries around the world.

Our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons, and our common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity – men and women – to reach their full potential. I do not believe that women must make the same choices as men in order to be equal, and I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles. But it should be their choice. That is why the United States will partner with any Muslim-majority country to support expanded literacy for girls, and to help young women pursue employment through micro-financing that helps people live their dreams.

Finally, I want to discuss economic development and opportunity.

I know that for many, the face of globalization is contradictory. The Internet and television can bring knowledge and information, but also offensive sexuality and mindless violence. Trade can bring new wealth and opportunities, but also huge disruptions and changing communities. In all nations – including my own – this change can bring fear. Fear that because of modernity we will lose of control over our economic choices, our politics, and most importantly our identities – those things we most cherish about our communities, our families, our traditions, and our faith.

But I also know that human progress cannot be denied. There need not be contradiction between development and tradition. Countries like Japan and South Korea grew their economies while maintaining distinct cultures. The same is true for the astonishing progress within Muslim-majority countries from Kuala Lumpur to Dubai. In ancient times and in our times, Muslim communities have been at the forefront of innovation and education.

This is important because no development strategy can be based only upon what comes out of the ground, nor can it be sustained while young people are out of work. Many Gulf States have enjoyed great wealth as a consequence of oil, and some are beginning to focus it on broader development. But all of us must recognize that education and innovation will be the currency of the 21st century, and in too many Muslim communities there remains underinvestment in these areas. I am emphasizing such investments within my country. And while America in the past has focused on oil and gas in this part of the world, we now seek a broader engagement.

On education, we will expand exchange programs, and increase scholarships, like the one that brought my father to America, while encouraging more Americans to study in Muslim communities. And we will match promising Muslim students with internships in America; invest in on-line learning for teachers and children around the world; and create a new online network, so a teenager in Kansas can communicate instantly with a teenager in Cairo.

On economic development, we will create a new corps of business volunteers to partner with counterparts in Muslim-majority countries. And I will host a Summit on Entrepreneurship this year to identify how we can deepen ties between business leaders, foundations and social entrepreneurs in the United States and Muslim communities around the world.

On science and technology, we will launch a new fund to support technological development in Muslim-majority countries, and to help transfer ideas to the marketplace so they can create jobs. We will open centers of scientific excellence in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, and appoint new Science Envoys to collaborate on programs that develop new sources of energy, create green jobs, digitize records, clean water, and grow new crops. And today I am announcing a new global effort with the Organization of the Islamic Conference to eradicate polio. And we will also expand partnerships with Muslim communities to promote child and maternal health.

All these things must be done in partnership. Americans are ready to join with citizens and governments; community organizations, religious leaders, and businesses in Muslim communities around the world to help our people pursue a better life.

The issues that I have described will not be easy to address. But we have a responsibility to join together on behalf of the world we seek – a world where extremists no longer threaten our people, and American troops have come home; a world where Israelis and Palestinians are each secure in a state of their own, and nuclear energy is used for peaceful purposes; a world where governments serve their citizens, and the rights of all God’s children are respected. Those are mutual interests. That is the world we seek. But we can only achieve it together.

I know there are many – Muslim and non-Muslim – who question whether we can forge this new beginning. Some are eager to stoke the flames of division, and to stand in the way of progress. Some suggest that it isn’t worth the effort – that we are fated to disagree, and civilizations are doomed to clash. Many more are simply skeptical that real change can occur. There is so much fear, so much mistrust. But if we choose to be bound by the past, we will never move forward. And I want to particularly say this to young people of every faith, in every country – you, more than anyone, have the ability to remake this world.

All of us share this world for but a brief moment in time. The question is whether we spend that time focused on what pushes us apart, or whether we commit ourselves to an effort – a sustained effort – to find common ground, to focus on the future we seek for our children, and to respect the dignity of all human beings.

It is easier to start wars than to end them. It is easier to blame others than to look inward; to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path. There is also one rule that lies at the heart of every religion – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. This truth transcends nations and peoples – a belief that isn’t new; that isn’t black or white or brown; that isn’t Christian, or Muslim or Jew. It’s a belief that pulsed in the cradle of civilization, and that still beats in the heart of billions. It’s a faith in other people, and it’s what brought me here today.

We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written.

The Holy Koran tells us, “O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another.”

The Talmud tells us: “The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace.”

The Holy Bible tells us, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God’s vision. Now, that must be our work here on Earth. Thank you. And may God’s peace be upon you.



Afghanistan, A dying opportunity to free the waterfall

Afghanistan

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.

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.

Hakim/Young

Our Journey to Smile

http://ourjourneytosmile.com/blog



Palestine’s Holocaust museum : Why can’t Holocausts transform this Grievous Silence?‎

musa-museum

Musa says Palestinians feel sorrow for the Holocaust,

but question why they are being punished

Aren’t we grieved that Holocausts seem to be harbingers of more Holocausts?

Doesn’t anyone have enough sense to heal this Pain of All, whether the Pain plagues the Jew or the Palestinian or us?

Aren’t we all unwilling to lose any loved one, anywhere?

Isn’t it particularly tough for young children to handle ‘an eye for an eye’, especially if they weren’t the ones who delivered those ‘punches’?

Dear Musa,

Thanks for your fine work arising from Pain & Sorrow.

We’re Afghan youth & revenge is sadly part of our ‘culture’ ; ‘hitting back’ and ‘accusing only the other’ has become part of the Global Culture of War, our un-dignified and shared human condition.

So, we must keep trying till ‘an eye for an eye’ ceases, till love triumphs over anger, till this grievous silence is transformed.

It’d take a lot from us to bring peace & humanity in the midst of war & in-humanity, but that’s better than the senseless violence that takes away our all!

Peace!

Our Journey to Smile

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner

Al Jazeera 03/05/09

http://english.aljazeera.net/focus/2009/04/2009429133130101883.html

In a small anonymous home in the West Bank, a Palestinian academic has set up a project which is almost unheard of in the Occupied Territories.

Hassan Musa is the curator of a museum exhibition dedicated to the Jewish Holocaust in Europe.

The cracked white walls of this makeshift museum in the village of Ni’lin are covered from floor to ceiling with images of people forced out of their homes, tortured, imprisoned, starved and murdered.

In addition to the pictures depicting the Nazi brutality against Jews in Europe, there are also images of the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe) following the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 and the violence in Palestine since.

Musa says pictures of the atrocities committed against both peoples were strategically placed side-by-side to not only reflect the suffering of both and help Israelis and Palestinians better understand each other, but also to demonstrate how victims of one conflict can become the harbinger of another.

“The world is shamefully silent about what is happening in Palestine..”he said.

People in the village also accused the Israeli military of killing four Ni’lin residents since protests against land confiscation began in May 2008.

Among those was Musa’s 10-year-old nephew, Ahmad, who died on July 29, 2008 from a bullet wound to the head.

“Our message to the Jewish people all over the world is that having been victims of such a brutal genocide, we expect you to be messengers of all the principles of justice, mercy and humanity,” he told Al Jazeera.

“I lost my nephew and I know how painful it is for me,” Musa says, “that’s why I don’t want anyone else living on this land to lose their loved ones.”



Swine Flu Pandemic is Imminent UN WHO fears : ‎The War Pandemic a greater threat to humanity than the Swine Flu Pandemic

pandemic

The War Pandemic a greater threat to humanity than the Swine Flu Pandemic

I’m a doctor and support the most rigorous measures necessary to control H1N1 Influenza A Swine Flu virus. The loss of EVERY life is a loss to humanity.

It is wonderful that the world has not been silent with this influenza threat.

I pray someone would listen to a threat that has been silent. Listen to silence.

I live and work in the midst of the War Pandemic, among Afghans in Afghanistan.

We should not be silent with the War threat either, which, just reading BBC News Front Page on 30/4/2009 updated at 0650 GMT, claimed 256 lives.

WHO rightly fears that a Swine Flu Pandemic is ‘imminent’. The War Pandemic is ‘present’.

The War Pandemic is also a human to human transmitted disease.

It is spread when a human gives an order Incongruent with all Human Consciences and Civilizations, the order to fight, to kill.

It is more than a mutation.

It is no respecter of persons.

Like H1N1, it verifies Man’s common Mortality by mercilessly speeding it up.

We ordinary Afghan youth have been paralyzed by this War Pandemic all our lives.

We wish to run away but we can’t seem to quarantine ourselves!

We cry, “God, save us!” but God seems to say, “Humanity can save herself!”

We cry, “Stop! We’re tired of war and want peace!” But, no human seems to hear us.

No one listens to the ordinary Voice of Peace, drowned by the voices of a few powerful fellow human beings who have caught this subtle illness that is tearing humanity apart. Tearing humanity apart…. Tearing us apart……

Will you grieve as much for those of us who may be killed by war soon, as much as the world is grieving for those killed by the H1N1 virus?

We plead with humanity not to forget. Please. Please don’t forget.

For tomorrow, as you keep updated on the Swine Flu Pandemic statistics, some of us may have already succumbed to the War Pandemic statistics.

Can’t ordinary human beings do something to end this War Pandemic, this global in-humanity, this New Global Great Game, this Global Culture of War?

If this grief doesn’t make sense to you, then at least, remember us in our silence and our inconsolable regret.

“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. ” Martn Luther King Jr

Thanks and Peace!

Dr Hakim/Young

pandemic-swine-flu




Our Journey to Smile Supporters’ Words of Encouragement

The Youth of Bamiyan, Afghanistan Voice their Hearts to Obama and Humanity

 

Is there anyone who would allow us to exercise our human ability to decide for ourselves?

 

This is the voice of the youth of Bamiyan, Afghanistan.

 

Where is human dignity, the lack of which always drags Mankind towards degradation?

 

The meaning and understanding of humanity has been buried in the black well of self-absorption and selfishness.

 

3 decades of war and violence in Afghanistan has repeated to us that the word humanity has no value and whispered in our ears that the technology that brings ease and comfort and the creative abilities of Man are just for show.

 

If humanity had not vanished, this period of reckoning for the future of Afghanistan would at least ask what the people of Afghanistan want. Today, the youth of Bamiyan, Afghanistan have questions in our hearts and minds that have not been answered all these years.

 

Are there no other solutions for Afghanistan besides bloodshed, fire and military dispatches?

 

When President Obama decided to send 17,000 US troops to Afghanistan, don’t the people of Afghanistan have a right to be asked if they are agree with his decision?

 

Don’t those who work against humanity believe that they will die one day and that nothing but hate would be left in their places?

 

Don’t the world’s political leaders, who claim verbally to uphold justice, hear the voice of the tired, hungry and barefooted children of Afghanistan?

 

Should Ahmadinejad, Putin, Ehud Barak and Obama have the right to decide the fate of millions of human beings? Who ARE they?

 

Would all the leaders of the world one day be found by all schools, universities  and institutions of learning to have had the lawful right to treat human dignity so harshly?

 

Can’t Mankind find itself through his thoughts and through technology? Or would technology only be useful for the annihilation of Mankind?

 

Why must the worth of human beings be sacrificed to ideologies?

 

Is war the only solution to eradicate violence?

 

Can any meaning of democracy be found in the current global situation and actions?

 

What will humanity mean in this century?

 

Where would humanity go with her current policies?

 

Till when must the youth of Afghanistan choke, cry and hold hate in their hearts?

 

Is our ultimate sin just that we are human?

 

Till we understand, whoever is involved in our fate, whatever the eventual fate of humanity, and whoever will devour our country in the future, we await your thoughts, our friends and our fellow human beings.

 

Najib Ekhloqi

Bamiyan, Afghanistan

صدای جوانان بامیان برای اوباما و بشریات

 

 

آیا کسانی هستند که وجهی یک انسان را که خود درتصمیم سرنوشت شان دخیل باشند برای ما قایل شوند ؟

 

این صدای جوانان بامیان است .

 

کجاشد آن کرامت انسانی که نبود آن همواره  بشریت را به انحطاط کشانده است . ومعنی ومفهوم انسانیت را به سیاه چاه خودبینی وخودپسندی مدفون ساخته است .

 

سه دهه جنگ وخشونت درافغانستان برای ما چنین جمله راتکرارکرده اند که انسانیت واژه نا کارآمدی بیش نیست وچنین درگوش ضعیفان نجوا کرده اند که  تکنالوژی است که رفاه وآسایش را فراهم میسازد وقدرت خلاقیت بشر را به نمایش میگذارد .

اگرمفهوم انسانیت نا پدید نمی شد درین مدت برای تعیین سرنوشت مردم افغانستان حد اقل ازآنا ن خواسته میشد  که چه میخواهید ؟

وامروزما جوانان بامیان سوالات را درذهن ما داریم که سالها پاسخ نیافته است :

  • آیا بجای این همه خون وآتش واعزام سربازان به افغانستان راه دیگروجود ندارد ؟
  • آقای اوباما وقتی طرحی اعزام 17 هزارسرباز را به افغانستان مینمانید ، آیا مردم افغانستان این حق را ندارند که یکبار ازآنان بپرسند که چه میخواهند ؟
  • آیا هر شخص انسان ستیز به این باورندارند که یکروزی می میرند وهیچ چیزی بجزتنفر ازآن بجا نمی ماند ؟
  • آیا رهبران سیاسی جهان که شعارعدالت بر زبان دارند صدای خسته اطفال شکم گرسنه وپا برهنه افغانستان را نمی شنود ؟
  • آیا احمدی نژاد ، ولادیمیر پوتین ، ایهود باراک واوباما این حق را دارند که درمورد سرنوشت ملیون ها انسان تصمیم بگیرند ؟
  • آنها که هستند ؟
  • آیا همه رهبران سیاسی  جهان یکروزدرمکتب ودانشگاه با واژه بنام انسانیت برنخورده است که اینگونه درحق کرامت انسان جفا روا میدارند ؟
  • آیا بشر با تفکرش به انواع تکنولوژی ها دست نیافته اند؟  ودست یابی به تکنولوژی فقط برای نابودی بشریت بکار انداخته میشود ؟
  • چرا ارزش های انسانی قربانی ایدولوژی ها میشود ؟
  • آیا برای رفع خشونت فقط  جنگ راه حل است ؟
  • آیا درشرایط کنونی جهان وعملکردهای رهبران سیاسی دموکراسی معنی دارد ؟
  • انسان درین قرن یعنی چه ؟
  • با این پالیسی جهان به کجا خواهد رفت ؟
  • ما جوانان افغان تاکی بغض درگلو ، اشک درچشم ، تنفر درقلب بسر بریم ؟
  • آخر گناه ما جوانان افغانستان فقط انسان بودن است ؟

برای اینکه بدانیم که وچه کسانی درتعیین سرنوشت ما دخیل اند وچه سر نوشت درانتظار انسانیت است وآینده کشورما چگونه وبدست چه کسانی رقم خواهد خورد ، منتظر نظریات شما دوستان میباشیم .

نجیب الله اخلاقی – بامیان

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Aman from Afghanistan wrote on 21/2/2009 :
 
‘I would like to join our journey to smile,
because it take long time we people had no oppertunity to smile because of the war.’
 
 
 
Florence from Singapore wrote on 23/2/2009 :
 

The Our Journey to Smile video has warmed my heart and lifted my spirits; that despite the strife and tribulations out there, love radiates from their smiles. Please let them know that they are a beautiful people 🙂



Letter to Palestinian Dr Izzeldeen from Afghan youth
February 24, 2009, 8:17 am
Filed under: Journey Updates, Letters and Correspondences

dr-izzeldeenDr Izzeldeen

Dr Izzeldeen lost 3 daughters and a niece in the Gaza conflict. He says that he still believes in peace. He said that his family was only armed with love and education.

Afghan youth in Bamiyan and all in Our Journey to Smile humbly wish to put the SMILE back on Dr Izzeldeen’s face.

Dear Dr Izzeldeen,

We, the youth of Bamiyan Afghanistan, grieve with you.

We know from personal firsthand experiences that grief is permanent and inconsolable.

As difficult as this grief is Mankind’s disappointment in the obstinate, undignified in-humanity of the few fellow human beings who would kill LOVE, again and again.

War and violence kills LOVE, again and again.

raziq-and-abdulRaziq and Abdul

15-year-old Raziq and 12-year-old Abdul would like to specially comfort you using a poignant Afghan phrase, “Our ‘liver is bleeding’ with you (we are intensely sad with you).”

Ba-AmAn KhudA (wishing you the peace and protection of God),

Our Journey to Smile

ourjourneytosmile.com