This holiday season is becoming a shocking eye-opener.
Amidst the typical trials and tribulations of our fast-paced society, who would have expected America to be immersed in a war against terrorism? And who would have expected the stark reality this war has already revealed?
I'm not referring to the strategic advances or the fleeing Taliban. The focus on human suffering that extends so far beyond even our worst expectations is inescapable.
In our ever-changing world, it is impossible to break away from the definition of "healing" which refers to the process of becoming whole again in mind, body and spirit. How is such healing possible when all human freedom gives way to the tyranny of terrorists so vastly supported throughout the world?
Immersed in preparation for an upcoming presentation on international wellness, I recently spent a great deal of time focusing on the issue of human rights from a world-wide perspective. At first the news of a liberated Afghanistan provided some solace. Yet as I followed the changes in Kabul, I couldn't help but feel taken back by the overwhelming plight of the Afghan people - especially the children.
It is difficult to maintain a positive perspective when one fully realizes the extent of the hopelessness and suffering these children endure. Two examples are indelibly etched in my mind: the first is the child soldier, the second is the child slave.
A 14-year old boy wielding a Soviet rifle was recently interviewed by a member of the international press. Ragged, war-torn, dust-covered and exhausted, he surprisingly managed to crack the slightest smile as he sat against a rock and recounted his 8 year career as a soldier. Life for him was one skirmish after another. His only family was the Northern Alliance. Foreign governments and the U.N. were perceived as threats - and shockingly not for the reason you might expect.
The young warrior lamented about losing the little that remained in his life. Cease fire and disarmament would destroy the only thing he knew - being a soldier. When the reporter asked him about any possible aspirations for becoming a doctor, lawyer, accountant or engineer, he simply looked up, smirked, shrugged his shoulders and quietly responded, "in Afghanistan?"
Those words reverberated painfully through a calloused exterior which could not conceal a void so deep and so estranged from hope, the energy that fuels the healing process.
Yet the soul of the Afghan people had barely been touched. For down the road in the remains of a filthy hovel, the true ravages of the Taliban stood as a painful example of what our world had so conveniently disregarded over the last several years.
In a dimly lit room hung a rug in the process of being woven. It wasn't just an ordinary rug - it was symbolic. For those who manned the loom it was a deplorable flag, a shocking way of life for the world to see. It revealed an unimaginable darkness no one should ever endure.
For the half-dozen blank-eyed silent 5-year-old girls lined up side to side, each rapid repetitious mechanical movement means a life without freedom, self-expression, creativity, happiness or hope. For a wage equivalent to 13 cents per week, barely enough to buy a loaf of bread, the Taliban repulsively stole their souls.
Such oppression and slavery was allowed to continue despite the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948 which established basic inalienable protections for all people world-wide. Those who are fighting a supposed "Holy War" have deliberately turned their backs on those articles of freedom. The world powers have also ignored their inhumanity until now.
This war wasn't brought about by accident - there is a scheme to things and perhaps there is a higher order in sight. To liberate Afghanistan isn’t enough. To enable the Afghan people to heal themselves in mind, body and spirit has to be the ultimate legitimate goal of a world alliance working toward ensuring and preserving basic human rights.
What started as retaliation for a terrorist attack has now revealed the dehumanizing impact of contemporary terrorism. This is our chance to accept the challenge in order to make a sustainable humanitarian difference for generations to come. It is also a timely opportunity to demonstrate to our children that the prospect of world peace cannot exist when basic human rights are ignored.
This holiday season let’s take time to remember and value the precious freedoms, often taken for granted, we enjoy under God and country. Together we can strive to preserve and protect basic human rights as an essential healing elixir for every child in our world - Mind Over Matter!
©2001 Barry Bittman,
MD all rights reserved