I know many of you are upset that the OpEd columns are the NYT are no longer free, so I’ve taken the liberty of writing a counterfeit Thomas L Friedman column, to sate your appetite. In case you’re wondering, I did use a basic template (but not a generator) for making it. Michael Ward deserves credit.
By Typewriter King
Last week's events in Afghanistan were truly historic, although we may not know for years or even decades what their final meaning is. What's important, however, is that we focus on what these events mean to the citizens themselves. The media seems too caught up in spinning the macro-level situation to pay attention to the important effects on daily life. Just call it missing the battle for the bullets.
When thinking about the recent turmoil, it's important to remember three things: One, people don't behave like billiard balls, so attempts to treat them as such inevitably look foolish. Billiard balls never suddenly shift their course in order to fit with a predetermined set of beliefs. Two, Afghanistan has spent decades torn by civil war and ethnic hatred, so a mindset of peace and stability will seem foreign and strange. And three, capitalism is an extraordinarily powerful idea.
When I was in Afghanistan last August, I was amazed by the level of Westernization for such a closed society and that tells me two things. It tells me that the citizens of Afghanistan have no shortage of potential entrepreneurs and that is a good beginning to grow from. Second, it tells me that people in Afghanistan are just like people anywhere else on this great globe of ours.
So what should we do about the chaos in Afghanistan? Well, it's easier to start with what we should not do. We should not let seemingly endless frustrations cause the people of to Afghanistan doubt their chance at progress. Beyond that, we need to be careful to nurture the seeds of democratic ideals. The opportunity is there, but I worry that the path to peace is so strewn with obstacles that Afghanistan will have to move down it very slowly.
Speaking with a local farmer on the last day of my recent visit, I asked him if there was any message that he wanted me to carry back home with me. He pondered for a second, and then smiled and said, a well-known phrase in that region, which is a local saying that means roughly, "That tea is sweetest whose herbs have dried longest.”
I don't know what Afghanistan will be like a few years from now, but I do know that it will probably look very different from the country we see now, even if it remains true to its basic cultural heritage. I know this because, through all the disorder, the people still haven't lost sight of their dreams.
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