Project Peace Rising: Afghanistan

Along with CNVC certified trainer Catherine Cadden and Jesse Wiens, I traveled to Kabul in November of 2007. We were invited by the Bureau for Reconstruction and Development, an Afghan NGO, to offer a day of art and play with children, as well as a 5-day intensive workshop on peacebuilding and reconciliation. This was an amazing opportunity to join the efforts toward planting seeds of peace and reconciliation in one of the most devastated places on the planet.  To read original blog entries that document my experience in Kabul, use the drop-down menu on the left side of the screen. 

 AfghanistanProject Peace RisingI read once that a Bodhisatva cries every day. He cries because he feels the suffering of all of the beings in the world. She cries because she celebrates the wonder of life in every moment. I almost never cry. I can count on one hand the times that I’ve cried in the last 5 or 6 years. One of the biggest moments when the tears came, when the pain welled up inside of me and became strong enough to overcome even my strongest efforts to hold back, was the night of September 11, 2001. The numbness and shock of witnessing the sounds of what happened that morning, and then sharing space with the hundreds of people around me who had lost loved ones was amplified by the gravity of the words spoken by George W. Bush that evening. His was a speech catapulted us into a state of what Richard Perle once called “total war”—soon US military force would seem to be legitimized on multiple fronts, and the “war on terror” would become a household name.

I knew none of that at the time—I don’t think many people could possibly fathom the implications of the actions that followed the moments after the planes crashed into the Twin Towers. In the depths of shock, grief, and outrage, it’s virtually impossible to rationally make life-serving decisions. My own tears certainly came from the depths of my confusion that humans could do something so catastrophically and atrociously symbolic at the expense of so many lives. But now, as I reflect back on the moments and days that followed, I think that I was also mourning a lack of ability in all of us, including myself, to meet the situation with the creativity and the compassion that might have blossomed into something constructive. Instead, three and a half weeks later, the largest, most advanced military force in the world invaded one of the poorest countries on the planet.

Today, Afghanistan remains impoverished and torn by war. Amidst the occupation by foreign troops and a resurgence of the Taliban, it has been difficult to rebuild and to move forward with reconciling the trauma that has affected Afghan people for centuries. Now, an opportunity has arisen to tangibly affect the transformation of these cycles of violence. Today, as much as any day, we can act to build peace in Afghanistan.


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