Our Journey to Smile

An Afghan message of peace to Obama the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, about our savage ‘Afghan’ instincts; and timeless advice from the ‎wall behind him

Please watch a young, Afghan friend talk about our savage ‘Afghan’ instincts


the 'savage' Afghan

“They are like ‘animals’ because they are unethical & get furious.”

From my peaceful mud-house in the Afghan Hindu Kush hills, I imagine a White House morning when Malia and Shasha are sincerely worried and fearful about some dangerous rumours, that inhuman extremists in Hamburg, Yemen, Somalia, Afg/Pak and closer to home, in New York, may be plotting to hurt them and their friends.

I can’t imagine their kind, loving father Obama storming into their room and shouting, “Don’t worry, I will send 40,000 more troops to every one of those places, I’ll escalate the number of Nevada-based computer-drone pilots who would remotely extinguish your distant fears, and if you have any strong suspicions about any fishy characters near you, I will activate our modified renditions, trace down and destroy all their safe havens or simply, I’ll kill them all.”

I can’t imagine it because behind Obama’s desk in his Senate office, there are 2 iconic pictures on the wall, of heroes close to Obama’s heart : Ghandi and Martin Luther King. They would speak to Obama in their deaths if they could. What they would have said today they had said years ago; and I’ve reproduced their clear strategy below for Obama’s convenience.

I can’t imagine this of a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. We congratulate him for being conferred this title.

Obama's heroes behind his Senate desk

If hate is the root of the ‘terror’ around and within us, we clearly need a civil response of courageous love.

We need to bravely re-define what is of ‘necessity’; our conscience and even our fears recognize that what is of ‘necessity’ now is not war.

We cannot make ourselves more secure with more violence. We cannot gain trust with more mutual killing. We never win by imposing death on others or on our own soldiers.

Even if we, somehow, ‘win’, we ourselves, eventually, die. We all do, not just Afghans.

President Obama, ordinary Afghans and international soldiers who are dying in what is now your Afghan war, ask that you do not inadvertently re-define peace as war, for in so doing, you would have taken away all of our hope.

Though I can’t think this mad-ness of America’s First Family, the world is staring at the angry, arrogant illogic of our 21st century’s insecure, First World elite policy makers.

With them, there are no longer any creative, non-violent, civilian alternatives. Very few thinkers think. Hardly any empathize and philosophy is derisively dead.

So, when Gore Vidal said that there’ll be a ‘dictatorship’ in the US soon, or when Jimmy Carter suggested a deep racist undercurrent to health care reform or when the Pope had called the kettle black in blaming greed for the financial crisis, they are partly referring to the complete dominance of the haughty, savage instinct of SELF-preservation over all else. And this isn’t a uniquely savage ‘Afghan’ instinct. It’s in all of us.

No questions.

No alternatives.

Questions and alternatives are deemed treason.

The only ‘winnable’ military strategy becomes sacred and ‘holier-than-thou’, because we believe that we must have ‘victory’ at all cost. We fear ‘losing’, even if we lose everything ‘essential about ourselves’.

Afghans know this strategy very well. They have been dying from the dictatorship of their ancient, violent greed for power and money. Now, we are sealing their greed and our deaths with Man’s hollow appearances and foggy wars. We are declaring:

Fraud is free.

Lies are truths.

Military might is right.

And money is everything.

Afghanistan’s tribal warlordism used to be confined to villages and valleys but now, with international assistance, it has been sanctioned and propagated country-wide. So, Afghans who have lived all their lives surviving and mastering this primitive warlordism are waiting, hungrily waiting.

“Train us! Send us those dollars! We’ll help you through our endlessly vengeful, constantly traitorous shifting allegiances. Don’t worry about us; on the average, we live for only 43 years anyway,” the Afghan elite shout.

Living here in a tribal village in Afghanistan, I’ve come to understand our common human condition. I’m not talking about the breakout of the ‘Lord of the Flies’ style savagery on William Golding’s island or at Kabul’s US fortress or in the desperate, fraudulent Afghan elections.

I’m talking about something much, much cruder.

This madness needs to stop. We need to find love and truth again.

Afghans have not seen compassion or justice in the inhumanity of constant war. They need hope that the abusive money and power of the corporate 1% do not always triumph. Every human needs such hope.

Maybe, they and the world can discover these human values if Obama remains engaged in Afghanistan, but through a 90% civilian effort. We can all be more imaginative in our commitment.

Those who reason that the military strategy must precede the civilian surge should consider the view of Amrullah Saleh, the head of the Afghan intelligence agency, when he said that the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI, could play a vital role in ending the Afghan war. “To arrest the Taliban leadership in Quetta, you don’t need a military operation … just soft-knock their house and arrest them,” Saleh told Al Jazeera. Or I ask myself how some international humanitarian civilians and I could live in Quetta post-September 11, without hired security.

We wish for a 90% civilian approach because we envision that robust international relations are fostered through sincere diplomacy, not armed threats and we expect that Obama’s government is ultimately a civilian government, not a military one.

The authority of the Commander-in-Chief was not intended to approve militarism as a way of good governance but as a check, lest we forget that we are firstly humans, and that our naked humanity needs to be our primary resort, way before partisan politics and uniformed plans.

And since weighing the financial cost-benefit of waging war would remorselessly favor fighting for an illusory national security and recycling the tangible military-industrial profit, we’re unlikely to find sanity that way. It’s time, instead, to humanely deliberate over the priceless human cost behind every soldier, veteran and civilian dying, for what?

Obama is heading towards real Change in re-considering the Afghan strategy anew, for the sake of ourselves and our fellow human beings, because re-considering is a key to humanity’s innovation, if not a way to recover our kindness. We are trusting in the kindred spirit overcoming man-made institutions and temporal decorum when we keep hope that the debate would truly be diverse and not merely cosmetic.

No human likes abandonment, as is natural in normal friendships, so while some rightly fear that creating all the civilian options we can muster to assist Afghanistan may be misconstrued as leaving Afghanistan, those fears are unfounded and unfriendly.

Einstein’s pacifist intellect is sorely needed but his common sense intellect is sufficiently important at this moment: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.”

Obama’s penchant for history knows that war certainly isn’t new. War is the same old, tragic story. It will never be the ‘substantially new manner of thinking’ required for our survival, for our freedom from fear and our search for meaning.

President Obama, please reason with the civil hearts among the masses, whose majority want peace, through a referendum if necessary. You will then witness the very virtue you want your iconic heroes to remind you of, that ‘real results will not just come from Washington, they will come from the people’, that a truer ‘governance of the people by the people’ built upon the moral compass of ordinary people is possible in the States, and with great patience, in Afghanistan too. After all, whether we live life with a conferred title, rank or uniform, or as name-less souls, we all perish as ordinary people.

And please heed the civil voices, even if they come from the dead, silent wall behind you.

For then, the escalating anger and madness, our shared savage instincts, would begin to abate. And our world would find genuine safety in decency and in the conciliatory civilizations of this age, the momentous change we’ve all been longing for.

the 'civil' Afghanthe bright, civil Afghan

Ghandi and Martin Luther King to Obama today

Below are the 2 icons speaking to Obama. I have not bothered to change the names of the countries mentioned because the love and truth spoken in their views don’t change, not for the well-known Presidents that pass through the White House, or for the unknown Afghans that live in the hills.

And enough similarities have been drawn about the Afghan and Vietnam war scenarios, though such analyses can never bring back those who have been killed in the past, nor clarify the doubts of those who choose to kill today, nor alleviate the terror of those who may be killed.

Ghandi to Obama today

Gandhi spinning wheel Obama's office


I may not carry my argument any further. Language at best is but a poor vehicle for expressing one’s thoughts in full. For me nonviolence is not a mere philosophical principle. It is the rule and the breath of my life. I know I fail often, sometimes consciously, more often unconsciously. It is a matter not of the intellect but of the heart. True guidance comes by constant waiting upon God, by utmost humility, Self-abnegation, by being ever ready to sacrifice one’s self. Its practice requires fearlessness and courage of the highest order. I am painfully aware of my failings.

But the Light within me is steady and clear. There is no escape for any of us save through truth and non-violence. I know that war is wrong, is an unmitigated evil. I know too that it has got to go. I firmly believe that freedom won through bloodshed or fraud is no freedom.

The end and aim of the movement for British withdrawal is to prepare India, by making her free for resisting all militarist and imperialist ambition, whether it is called British Imperialism, German Nazism, or your pattern. If we do not, we shall have been ignoble spectators of the militarization of the world in spite of our belief that in non-violence we have the only solvent of the militarist spirit and ambition. Personally I fear that without declaring the Independence of India the Allied powers would still not be able to beat the Axis combination which has raised violence to the dignity of a religion. The allies cannot beat you and your partners unless they beat you in your ruthless and skilled warfare. If they copy it, their declaration that they will save the world for democracy and individual freedom must come to naught. I feel that they can only gain strength to avoid copying your ruthlessness by declaring and recognizing now the freedom of India, and turning sullen India’s forced co-operation into freed India’s voluntary co-operation.
To Britain and the Allies we have appealed in the name of justice, in proof of their professions, and in their own self-interest. To you I appeal in the name of humanity. It is a marvel to me that you do not see that ruthless warfare is nobody’s monopoly. If not the Allies, some other Power will certainly improve upon your method and beat you with your own weapon. Even if you win you will leave no legacy to your people of which they would feel proud. They cannot take pride in a recital of cruel deeds however skillfully achieved.
Even if you win, it will not prove that you were in the right; it will only prove that your power of destruction was greater. This applies obviously to the Allies too, unless they perform now the just and righteous act of freeing India as an earnest and promise of similarly freeing all other subject peoples in Asia and Africa.

I address this appeal to you in the hope that our movement may even influence you and your partners in the right direction and deflect you and them from the course which is bound to end in your moral ruin and the reduction of human beings to robots.
The hope of your response to my appeal is much fainter than that of response from Britain. I know that the British are not devoid of a sense of justice and they know me. I do not know you enough to be able to judge. All I have read tells me that you listen to no appeal but to the sword. How I wish that you are cruelly misrepresented and that I shall touch the right chord in your heart! Anyway I have an undying faith in the responsiveness of human nature.

Martin Luther King to Obama today

Martin Luther King at rally Obama's office

Martin Luther King

Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover, when the issues at hand seem as perplexing as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict, we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty. But we must move on.

Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in our nation’s history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history. Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movements, and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us.

We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation, for those it calls “enemy,” for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.

Our government felt then that the Vietnamese people were not ready for independence, and we again fell victim to the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long.

We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops.

Surely we must understand their feelings, even if we do not condone their actions. Surely we must see that the men we supported pressed them to their violence. Surely we must see that our own computerized plans of destruction simply dwarf their greatest acts.

Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence, when it helps us to see the enemy’s point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.

At this point I should make it clear that while I have tried in these last few minutes to give a voice to the voiceless in Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those who are called “enemy,” I am as deeply concerned about our own troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved. Before long they must know that their government has sent them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy, and the secure, while we create a hell for the poor.

Somehow this madness must cease.

Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the hearts of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom, and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism.

If we continue, there will be no doubt in my mind and in the mind of the world that we have no honorable intentions in Vietnam. If we do not stop our war against the people of Vietnam immediately, the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horrible, clumsy, and deadly game we have decided to play. The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways. In order to atone for our sins and errors in Vietnam, we should take the initiative in bringing a halt to this tragic war.

A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: “This is not just.” It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say: “This is not just.” The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.

A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.
America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.

A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.
This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all mankind. This oft misunderstood, this oft misinterpreted concept, so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force, has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I’m not speaking of that force which is just emotional bosh. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Moslem-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John: “Let us love one another, for love is God. And every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love.” “If we love one another, God dwelleth in us and his love is perfected in us.” Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day.

We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. As Arnold Toynbee says: “Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death and evil. Therefore the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word.”

We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood. It ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, “Too late.” There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. Omar Khayyam is right: “The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on.”

We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.

Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world. This is the calling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets? Or will there be another message of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise, we must choose in this crucial moment of human history.


Remembering Mark Twain with The War Prayer in Afghanistan

“The War Prayer,” a short story or prose poem by Mark Twain, was a scathing indictment of war, and particularly of blind patriotic and religious fervor as motivations for war. It was dictated by Mark [Samuel Clemens] in 1904 in advance of his death in 1910.

Outraged by American military intervention in the Philippines, Mark Twain wrote “The War Prayer”.

Emilio Aguinaldo, a Filipino revolutionary rebel leader, was fighting for the independence of the Philipines from Spain. In 1898, with the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, Aguinaldo unofficially allied with the United States, returned to the Philippines and resumed hostilities against the Spaniards.

By June, the rebels had conquered nearly all Spanish-held ground within the Philippines with the exception of Manila. Aguinaldo thus declared independence from Spain and the First Philippine Republic was established. However, neither Spain nor the United States recognized Philippine independence. Spanish rule in the islands only officially ended with the 1898 Treaty of Paris, wherein Spain ceded the Philippines and other territories to the United States.

United States would extend its sovereignty over the Islands, and thus in place of the old Spanish master a new one would step in.

The United States refused to allow the Filipinos to participate in taking Manila from Spain. The United States Navy waited for American reinforcements and, in August 13, 1898, captured the city in what may have been a staged battle. On 4 February, 1899, an American sentry patrolling near the border between the Filipino and American lines shot a Filipino soldier, after which Filipino forces returned fire, thus igniting a second battle for the city. Aguinaldo sent a ranking member of his staff to Ellwell Otis, the U.S. military commander, with the message that the firing had been against his orders. According to Aguinaldo, Otis replied, “The fighting, having begun, must go on to the grim end.”

The Philippines declared war against the United States on June 2, 1899, with Pedro Paterno, President of Congress, issuing a Proclamation of War. The Philippine–American War ensued between 1899, and 1902. The war officially ended in 1902, with the Philippine leaders accepting, for the most part, that the Americans had won.

‘The War Prayer’ was left unpublished by Mark Twain at his death, largely due to pressure from his family, who feared that the story would be considered sacrilegious.

In a letter to his confidant Joseph Twichell, Mark wrote that he had “suppressed” the story for seven years, even though his conscience told him to publish it, because he was not “equal” to the task.

“I have told the truth in that… and only dead men can tell the truth in this world.” Mark Twain

Today in Afghanistan, every day, the conventional wisdom of militarism in 2009 finds a focus in a global Great Game, in which Truth is a rare find, even through the best strategists and interpreters.

A Global Great Game in which Love has long since died.

“The War Prayer in Afghanistan” is imagined as a ‘prayer’ that any Muslim / Christian / non-religious ‘warrior’ in Afghanistan may pray. It may also be a cry of their loved ones at home, wherever home may be.

This prayer is purely fictional, emulating the same spirit of Mark Twain when he wrote the original War Prayer (printed at the end of this post), one of the many differences being that the voice that prays here isn’t that of a ‘lunatic sent by God’ but of an ordinary, sane 21st century person.

The OR-s  in bold reflect minor differences in the terminologies that may be used by the different faiths; it is obvious that the vast majority of the prayer lines are mostly similar between the faiths.

the war prayer

Please watch 2 cherry-picking Afghan boys ‘pray’ for Afghanistan


The War Prayer in Afghanistan

It was a time of great and exalting excitement.  The country was up in arms, the war was on….

Have mercy on us, oh merciful and compassionate God, we are fearful and terrified!

We have to win!

We have to protect the women, children and civilians of Afghanistan. We have to protect the authority and government which You appoint, however corrupt they may be.

Most necessary of all, we have to destroy every mud corner that is the safe haven of the disguised insurgent ( oh, they all look alike  but You are omniscient and can help us to identify the true insurgent ) OR most merit-chalking of all, we have to destroy every armored vehicle that is the safe haven of the foreign trooper.

We have to remove every one of Your enemies.

Thank You, Almighty One, that You are our One and Only God, and that You are on our side. They, the enemies whom we and whom You and the whole world hate, are already defeated.

Yes, we are grateful and encouraged that civilization, guided by our higher moral obligations, has matured enough to view this as a holy war, a just war or at least, a good war.

We cannot thank you enough for the minds and abilities You have endowed us with to annihilate any enemy, that we have weapons that can do so remotely on a mass scale without un-necessarily endangering Your humble servants.

Yes, we exalt You for entrusting us with such wisdom, strategies and technologies in order to defend Your people!

We praise You that You are the real Master and President OR Warlord of our glorious one–and-only-cracy, and for this, we are prepared to sacrifice our lives! We are not afraid because we know that we will triumph, and we will not be moved till we win, so that these tortured people living under oppressive governments would finally be free.

We thank you that we not only have Your support, but also the votes OR allegiance of the enlightened world, fellow believers and countrymen  and many other true warriors of our time.

So, we plead forYour kindness in helping us to destroy our enemies. We know that You understand our sincere concerns and their evil secrets. Protect your nation and your people! Ensure our security!

We wish to uphold and defend Your gracious justice, so please help us to bomb these terrible people out of their dirty pants.

We wish to enforce Your upright love, so please help us to bullet these terrible people with ‘one clean kill’.

You are constantly aware of the agony and cries of all our mothers for their beloved sons and daughters, so spare us the permanent pain of death. Let our enemies be the ones who feel this grief for dead sons and daughters; they deserve it!

We are Your people and You have set our family, community and society apart from the heathens OR infidels, so we ask that, through us, You will establish Your Kingdom community OR the brotherhood with great power and force, for the betterment of the whole world.

Wonderful Creator, grant us our human right to life!

We have faith that, though You do not wish for any to perish, it is only the spiritual death of hell You are ultimately concerned about, so You wouldn’t mind if we kept the physical killing to the minimum. After all, Your Name is supreme and to be glorified at great sacrifice and cost. In fact, help us to be willing to protect Your people and kill our enemies, Your enemies, at all cost.

In these times of financial crisis, we believe that You are too big to fail, so supply us, O Lord, with the money and resources to remove or buy our enemies, so we would be secure, safe in Your refuge and sanctuary, to which You’ve given us the keys, from which all blessings and riches flow. In God we trust OR God is great!

These are times of terror and conflict ; thank you for guiding us in the right way of  countering terror OR fighting the occupier with Your righteous anger.

We know that though You’ve imbued us with the beautiful and ideal concept of love, in reality no system or institution can control human nature, so you have equipped us with sophisticated military tools that can deliver us from the wiles of human nature and that can truly defend and change communities.

Spare no enemy’s life in Your sacred call for justice and thank You for allowing us the freedom of ‘collateral damage’ OR ‘suicide sacrifices’ as we become Your instruments of peace, a peace that the world cannot understand. However many the casualties and martyrs, the world will know through Your revelation that we are Your ambassadors of reconciliation.

We lift our hearts up to Your Holiness that demands truth even if it compels us to’ coerce’ others beyond our comfort zones. Sanctify our lips as we proclaim suitable justifications for Your vengeance, for it is Your vengeance we carry.

Release these misled souls from their blindness! We know that Your ways are not our ways and You do not make laws as the world makes, so empower us, that we will forever run without growing weary of doing good and walk without fainting upon any measure of blood.

Send more warriors into the field Lord; WE will pray incessantly, as we daily wait upon your wondrous works, that You will raise THEM up and send THEM, and give them the honor and privilege of bravely laying down their lives for us.

Spread Your gentle firmness and Your meek dignity, Lord, in these glorious battles! Shock Your enemies with Your Awesome love! We claim Your victory! Protect us,Your willing slaves by choice!

Forgive us generously as we generously forgive those who trespass against us!

Have mercy on us, oh merciful and compassionate God, we are fearful and terrified!

It was believed afterward that the prayer was uttered by a sage, because there was much sense and morality in what was said.

The War Prayer

by Mark Twain

It was a time of great and exalting excitement.  The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and spluttering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts, and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country, and invoked the God of Battles beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpourings of fervid eloquence which moved every listener.  It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety’s sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.

Sunday morning came – next day the battalions would leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were there, their young faces alight with martial dreams – visions of the stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender!  Then home from the war, bronzed heroes, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory!  With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the neighbors and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win for the flag, or, failing, die the noblest of noble deaths.  The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation:

God the all-terrible!
Thou who ordainest!
Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!

Then came the “long” prayer.  None could remember the like of it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language.  The burden of its supplication was, that an ever-merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers, and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them, shield them in the day of battle and the hour of peril, bear them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them to crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory…

An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness.  With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher’s side and stood there waiting.  With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued with his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal, “Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!”

The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside – which the startled minister did – and took his place.  During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes, in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said:

“I come from the Throne – bearing a message from Almighty God!”  The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention.  “He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd, and will grant it if such shall be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import – that is to say, its full import.  For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of – except he pause and think.

“God’s servant and yours has prayed his prayer.  Has he paused and taken thought?  Is it one prayer?  No, it is two – one uttered, the other not.  Both have reached the ear of Him who heareth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken.  Ponder this – keep it in mind.  If you would beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time.  If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor’s crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.

“You have heard your servant’s prayer – the uttered part of it.  I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it – that part which the pastor – and also you in your hearts – fervently prayed silently.  And ignorantly and unthinkingly?  God grant that it was so!  You heard these words: ‘Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!’  That is sufficient.  The whole of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words.  Elaborations were not necessary.  When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory – must follow it, cannot help but follow it.  Upon the listening spirit of God fell also the unspoken part of the prayer.  He commandeth me to put it into words.  Listen!

“O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle – be Thou near them!  With them – in spirit – we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe.  O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it – for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet!  We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him who is the Source of Love, and who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts.  Amen.

(After a pause)  “Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak!  The messenger of the Most High waits!”

It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

An eulogy for Afghanistan

my Afghan grandmaMy Afghan grandma, who has passed on

Afghanistan and humanity are dying, and of course, I’m not talking about the state and of course, life will go on.

I’m talking about the heart.

I’m a Singaporean medical humanitarian worker who has lived among Afghans for 7 years now and I’m grieving.

I’ve realized that this grief I share with ordinary Afghans doesn’t matter to anyone.

Rory Stewart’s Irresistible Illusion ( http://www.lrb.co.uk/v31/n13/stew01_.html ) has won, worldwide.

Living here in Afghanistan, I should say that it’s not an illusion; it has become Mankind’s irresistible convention, albeit a sort of desperate hysteria, to win, to be right at all cost.

And nothing can change this  ‘wisdom’ for now, certainly not any election. There doesn’t seem to be any room to re-think on a human level, far less to re-empathize.

If anything, the change will be for the worse, because the de-humanizing institutions of global politics, religion and media in the early 21st century are embracing this ‘goodness’ , ‘success’ and ‘necessity’.

Necessary for what?

Gone are trust, creativity, integrity, fairness and the type of love best exemplified in the grieving mother.


Afghans are human and are just as vile and virtuous as any human can be, so for their and our humanity, I grieve.

Most people reading this eulogy will think I’m insensible. So be it.

The insensible can grieve too.

Hakim in Afghanistan,

Our Journey to Smile


crying in AfghanistanCrying in Afghanistan

Afghan peace needs a human face V: Shir Ali the Afghan human person speaks‎

Shir Ali's meaning of life

Please watch Shir Ali the Afghan human person speak


Shir Ali, in your opinion, is peace possible in Afghanistan?

In my personal opinion, perhaps.

Perhaps?What percentage chance? 80% chance of peace

But you are 20% doubtful?

Yes, I’m 20% doubtful.

Why? I’m 20% doubtful about peace cos foreign countries transgress our country.

If they don’t transgress, if they truly serve with compassion, there’d be another 20% chance of peace

But they transgress & won’t allow another 20% chance for peace in Afghanistan

What does life mean to you?

Life is love.

So, love is important to you?

Yes, love is very important.

Why is love important?

We can, with peace, be friends of all, regardless with whom

80% chance of peace in a life that finds meaning in love

Afghan peace needs a human face III : Aziz the Afghan human person speaks

Aziz next to Balcksmith River

Aziz next to the Blacksmith River

Please watch Aziz the Afghan human person speak http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEzk4knM_WY

Salam ( peace ), Hakim.

Aziz, where do you live?

In Bamiyan, Blacksmith Village.

What’s the river behind you?

It’s the Blacksmith River.

Do you fish here?


Do most people in Afghanistan like war?

No, all are keen to have peace.

In my opinion, we want peace. We do not want war.

Why? Because war brings misfortune to people and society.

When asked what his wish in life was,

Aziz had said “ I wish to love people.”

Abdulai the mountain boy

Abdulai the mountain boy

Raziq works

Raziq works

Aziz loves sheep

Aziz loves people and sheep

Do Abdulai, Raziq, Aziz and other humans matter at all in war?

The purchasing power of peace BBC News 4/6/09

Defence companies, whose main task is to aid governments’ efforts to defend or acquire territory, routinely highlight their capacity to contribute to economic growth and to provide employment.

Defence spending 2008

US $374bn

Asia $173bn

European Nato members $144bn

Source : International Institute for Strategic Studies

António Guterres, a former Portuguese prime minister, has been UN High Commissioner for Refugees since 2005. Al Jazeera News 20/6/09

The number of people forcibly uprooted by conflict and persecution worldwide stands at more than 42 million.

Major countries of origin for refugees included Afghanistan (2.8 million) and Iraq (1.9 million), which together account for 45 per cent of all UNHCR refugees.

Just as the international community felt an obligation to spend hundreds of billions rescuing the international financial system, it should feel the same urgency to rescue some of the most vulnerable people on earth – refugees and the internally displaced.

And the amount needed is only a fraction of that spent on financial bailouts.

US admits Afghan airstrike orders BBC News 20/6/09

Failure by US forces to follow their own rules was the “likely” cause of civilian deaths in Afghan airstrikes last month, a US military report says.

Ex-detainees allege Bagram abuse BBC News 24/6/09

Allegations of abuse and neglect at a US detention facility in Afghanistan have been uncovered by the BBC.

Former detainees have alleged they were beaten, deprived of sleep and threatened with dogs at the Bagram military base.

Interview with Marjorie Cohn, National Lawyers Guild president and Thomas Jefferson School of Law professor Marjorie Cohn, Truth Out 22/6/09

I have testified as an expert witness in military hearings on the illegality of today’s wars.

There is a duty to obey a lawful order, but also a duty to disobey an unlawful order.

An order to deploy to an illegal war is an unlawful order, so it is lawful to resist the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

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


On fighting while on the road in Afghanistan

no to fighting

Please watch this video at


Habib Jan, good morning!

Good morning!

Habib, in your opinion, is fighting good?

Fighting? No ‘wallah’(in God’s name)

We are not happy with fighting anywhere in the world. There shouldn’t be fighting.

EVERY individual, under the effects of war, would react in a way that brings greater misfortune to that society.

What good is fighting. No, peace is good.

You..what do you think about fighting?

What good is fighting.

Fighting is good?

No, it’s bad.. fighting is not good.

Good morning, Jagbar.

Good morning. Jagbar, what do you think…

About fighting? Yes, about fighting.

Fighting is bad. It has no benefit. What’s the benefit in fighting?

Khamad, good morning.

Good morning.

Khamad Jan, what do you think about war? Is it good or not?

No, it’s not good.


It’s not good, it’s bad.

What happened because of war?

My father ‘left the world’ ( was killed in war )…….

No to fighting.