Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Life Goals
1. enjoy where I am
2. call and sing "I just called to say I love you" to someone and mean it
3. live in a house with a porch
4. pay cash for my next car
5. go to an Abilene High vs. Cooper game
6. live in a different country for at least a year

There are more, I'll just think of them later

Pet Peeves:
1. Loud cars
2. Explosive laughter
3. hair unattached to the body
4. when an entire trashcan is filled with a single item (i.e. a box, a Route 44 in a tiny trashcan)-and then you have to take out the trash when there really isn't any trash in it in the first place. That waste's my time. Just break-down the box, cup, etc...

I loved my job today. I loved my kids, they are adorable. I love how they get really excited about everything, like how their mom is picking them up and bringing the dog "Nitro" that is dressed-up like a pumpkin. They like to stick their hands in carved pumpkins. They love even when I get mad. I love that they are 7 and so incredible perseptive and they use words like "basically, actually, enjoy". I don't always come home and say "I love my job." But today I did, and so I wanted to share it.

Friday, October 12, 2007
War? Where?
I met a man on a plane from Pakistan.

Saeed has kind eyes, mocha skin, perfectly straight and white teeth, hidden behind full lips. His eyes are sunken in and surrounded by dark circles. I could sense his love and respect for his family and daughters, the older one which was sitting by us. He kindly and gently introduced us, where this 11 year old confidently reach her hand across the stout structure of her father to shake my hand. After a series of small talk and redundant questions Saeed asked why I was in Chiang Mai. I plainly explained I worked with a church. “So, you are a religious person?” He asked.
“Yes, I am.”
“You practice religion?”
“Yes, I am a practicing Christian.”
“Do you say prayers?”
“Yes, I do. Are you religious?” adverting the attention off myself.
“Yes, I am.”
“Are you Muslim?”
“Yes, but not an extremist like most Americans picture Islam to be. You know, all religions are the same at the core.”
”Really? Maybe you can tell me more about Islam. I am interested in knowing more.”
He went on to describe similar teachings of Muhammad, Jesus, Ghandi, Buddha: love your neighbor, giving to charity, importance of family, respect...”
“Yes, Jesus did teach those things. But Christians believe that Jesus is God.”
I continued to go on for a few minutes about why I’m a Christian until I could sense he was uneasy.
“I don’t know much about religions, you know. But I would like for you to come to Pakistan and stay with my family.”
O.K., interesting response, especially amist a conversation that was clearly making him uncomfortable. “I can tell,” his words rolled off his tongue in an arabic-english accent, “that you are a kind person. There should be people like you running your government.” A vision of being elected president ran across my mind.

I was relieved when he went to tell me the history of Afghanistan, the neighboring country of Pakistan. “I don’t know if I should tell you this...” he began.

The following is a paraphrase of his teachings (the words in parenthesis are my own):

The Soviets were in power in Afghanistan and the U.S. was deathly afraid of communism. So afraid, that we engaged in many wars to drive them out while killing so many innocent people, and also training the “uneducated people” (as Saeed described) to fight. According to Saeed, part of the U.S. training was to present the “uneducated people” with an extreme view of a jihad, or Holy War. The U.S. told these people that this was the time to fight, and therefore encouraging the creation of extreme Islam. But when the Soviets withdrew, so did the U.S. leaving ammunition, but no one to point the guns at. So, where did Afghanistan point their guns? None other than themselves (And so the civil war began. Turning old friends and companions on one another). And within a few years destroying the beauty of what was once Afghanistan. And while the once powerful military figures were engaging a war with each other, another power was rallying. The Taleban began forming. They too had ammunition as well as an extreme view of Islam, but now no funding. A Saudi Arabian, named Osama bin Laden then came into play. He funded the uprise of the Taleban which took over city by city. According to Saeed, the Taleban had nothing to do with 9-11. bin Laden was entirely responsible for that situation. And when the U.S. demanded the Taleban hand him over, culture barriers proved alive when the Taleban refused out of respect for a friend. And the U.S., unable to comprehend this or else skeptical (understatement), used our “Arms of mass destruction” to bomb a (half-dead Afghanistan). And though the Taleban is no longer in power (though still prevalent), the U.S is involved in recreating foreign politics. And now, Saeed continued, the Taleban is fighting with Pakistan because of the ally status of our two countries.

I will never claim to fully believe Saeeds account. And although Saeed’s account may be biased, as all accounts must be, no one an argue with perception or fact.

It’s hard to face the realities of war and real life that include death and unrest. We are sheltered as Americans. We live with a yellow veil over our faces that allow us to see only the minor inconveniences of our comfortable lives. And I won’t pretend to be empathetic regardless of how sympathetic I may be. I’m not sure what the answer is. We all surely cannot pack-up our lives and nomadically live where war is just to remove the clouds over our eyes. I don’t know what my role is, what our role is. Maybe it is to visit Saeed’s family next summer. But until then, let’s say real prayers that call an end to war and protection of people. Jesus is always the answer, even in the most devastating, unending circumstances.

“Americans do not know,” Saeed humbly ended his speech, “because they are thousands of miles away. There is peace in your country. But we know, because we are there.”