June 29, 2011

With my eyes fixed on Kabul

*Posted 6/29/11, Edited and Re-posted 6/30/11

As I prepare to relocate to Kabul in the coming months, watching the chaos at the Intercontinental Hotel yesterday made me physically ill.  Simultaneously I felt angry and frustrated.  Part of me was questioning the resolve to go to Kabul and the other part of me felt only more determined to get there.  I don't go looking for fires in the world as much as I look for ways to extinguish them, and watching the tragedy unfold, I felt as if the fire just got a great deal bigger.

It is for the very fact that I want to see a world of peace and justice, where no one must suffer needlessly, that I support any institution- be it nations, armies, corporations, or otherwise - who dedicate their resources to bring education, capital, and legal systems into the corners of the world.  Terrorism and aggression byproducts of global injustice, a consequence of international systems having marginalized vast regions of the globe, creating pockets of chaos, poverty, and despair.  As long as the world contains vast populations of alienated, frustrated youth who are denied a better future due to illiteracy, misinformation, and extreme poverty, tragedy will continue to touch our lives.  

Perhaps the avoidance of such ungoverned spaces would have been excusable in the past, but in a global era, the chaos of these regions will continue to permeate into the world.  Avoided regions such as Somalia affect the world everyday, evident by the 8.3 Billion Dollars lost to piracy in 2010, a metric that does not reflect the loss of innocent life or the displacement of millions of people.  Without continued effort to stabilize and facilitate an educated peace, will  today's Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan or elsewhere be any different?  

We can choose to intervene and invest in the well-being of humanity, to spread education, improved housing, access to clean water and opportunities for social mobility, or we can continue to marginalize populations.  The construction of economic barriers will not solve problems by removing them from sight.  In contrast, it will only give reason for people climb them, and when that is not possible because the wall has grown too high, it is only too be expected that those on the other side will fight to break the wall down.

I am saddened to see the lost of life from yesterday's attacks, and naturally fearful when I look at the problems facing me down the road.  Such incidents shock the conscious and shake me at the core.  My job is not to solve such problems, to "save the world" or bring peace and justice.  My job is to supply straight forward solutions to complex problems, very much in the way that a mechanic fixes a car or a technician repairs a computer.  The only difference is that I have to work with communities.  It is unfortunate that solving these problems - such as providing education and technical training to expand economic markets and reduce poverty - must confront hostility by an isolated and active minority.  Yet it is more unfortunate that so few are contributing solutions. 

It is understandable that not everyone has the ability to directly contribute to solving such problems.  Yet everyone has an ability to contribute in some particular fashion.  One place to start is with a modest donation to an aid agency.  I suggest MSF, as they take on  the greatest humanitarian challenges in the world and do not have any political support, operating entirely by private donations. More importantly, they are arguably the one of the best agencies, and are a leader in their field. Click Here to Make a Donation Online.  For now, I will  continue to measure the conditions in which I need to work in the future, and will continue to calculate the ratio of risk I am willing to confront for a each particular job.  While I continue to determine the fine balance of personal ability vs personal risk, I hope that others can at least make a small contribution to support those who do the same, and often in far more dangerous circumstances.

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