As I thought about this place that is worlds away from my comfortable home, I realized that here I was dreaming of a country that we are currently waging a war in, on the eve of the decade anniversary of the event that acted as a catalyst for that war. And I began to wonder if there were other people thinking of Afghanistan on 9/11. I'm not talking about the war, or terrorism, or extremism, or the Taliban, or Al Qaeda. I am sure we all thought about these things. And no matter what side of the fence you're on, those things are tied to the horrific events of 9/11. What I'm talking about is the place that's existed for hundreds of years, rich in history, rich in culture, rich in pride; the place that has over 1400 tribes and 40 languages; the place that has seen war for the last three decades, where poverty, famine, death, and heartache are often synonymous with life. A place that despite it's turbulent history and recent wars holds so much beauty. That's the place that was on my mind. And I'm sure that it was on the minds of anyone else who has lived there or visited. But it's my sincere hope that others thought of Afghanistan too. While most of our lives have returned to normal in the 10 years post 9/11, this little country on the other side of the world is still dealing with the effects of September 11th daily (example: multiple attacks in Kabul today).
In church on Sunday, we prayed for the families that lost loved ones. We also prayed for our enemies. I tried to picture that enemy in my head. I have never met a terrorist, so I don't know what one looks like apart from news clippings. I realized that the stereotypical picture that popped into my mind could be any Afghan, Arab, or bearded man. And I've met lots of Afghans, Arabs, and bearded men, none of whom were terrorists. And again, I wondered what others around me were picturing in their heads. What I hope is that people realize that the vast majority of Afghans are not our enemies; the vast majority of Muslims are not our enemies either. So I prayed for a different enemies that I do know face to face. I prayed for fear and misunderstanding, not that we would have them, but that we would learn to be free of them. I prayed that we would learn to love people and places that we don't know and don't understand, rather than fear them. Because the places that we associate with this:
are places that have this:
but most importantly these: