Voting With Their Feet

By Dr. Wee Teck Young 04-07-2014

Afghan Peace Volunteers plant a sapling in response to violence

On March 28 at about 4 p.m., the Afghan Peace Volunteers heard a loud explosion nearby. For the rest of the evening and night, they anxiously waited for the sound of rocket fire and firing to stop. It was reported that a 10-year-old girl, and the four assailants, were killed.

Four days later, they circulated a video, poem and photos prefaced by this note:

“We had been thinking about an appropriate response to the violence perpetrated by the Taliban, other militia, the Afghan government, and the U.S./NATO coalition of 50 countries.

So, on the 31st of March 2014, in building alternatives and saying ‘no’ to all violence and all forms of war-making, a few of us went to an area near the place which was attacked, and there, we planted some trees. -- Love and thanks, The Afghan Peace Volunteers"

Plant Trees Not Bombs in Afghanistan

It was the jolting vibrations

that shook our senses,

direction-less,

nonetheless directed by fellow humans.

Our eyes darted from mysterious fears

of losing one another.

“There’s been an explosion. Don’t come this way!”,

torn by our unspoken wish to huddle together,

as if madness could be scattered

among the fragile shells of ourselves.

as if we could

dream the unknown away.

We couldn’t,

the vision of connecting with other humans via Skype

stressing our time schedule,

as if there was a timetable

that could be kept in war,

as if sanity could be pursued

when our sight was wet.

My temper broke again,

Ali began to punch the wall,

Abdulhai bravely confessed disappointment with self,

and then, Faiz’s tears opened Ali’s river,

of sobs that were hard for me to hear,

though I knew then

that I was embracing love’s defiance.

I saw that yesterday too.

Each of us,

not far from the burnt out and rocket damaged house of death,

planting trees,

with the street kids Martin, Mahdi and Bahran,

then the officials, the police, students, a street girl named Gulsom.

They wanted life too

Finally, an Afghan lady came,

stoically holding a sapling,

not a word,

but a hundred hurts and wishes

were in her posture.

With steady hands used to making bread,

she planted roots for all of us

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