Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cowboys and Indians

One of the first things that hit me when I arrived on the Pakistan border was, "as a nation, we've been here before".  Now, I'm not referring to the Soviet conflict where we helped train and arm the mujahideen with the help of the Pakistani ISI.  I'm referring to the initial invasion of the North American continent, what we now call the United States. 

It took many years for me to go back and confront some of the deeper realizations of my experiences in Afghanistan.  It took going to college so I could articulate my experiences and living in a very supportive community that listens.  

Ultimately, I had to go back and face the facts: we, as a nation, are still erasing indigenous peoples and cultures to this day, in the name of freedom - and I had played a roll in this history of culture assassination.  There is no difference between the erasing of the Lakota nation through framing them as 'terrorist' and the erasing of the simple society constructs in Afghanistan, in an attempt to transplant democracy. 

I spoke with many afghans there and here in the states, and the general consensus is the tribe never asked for democracy; the tribe has it's own system of government.  

Some people say that this is what I get for trying to rationalize an irrational situation, but to me it's much more.  I now view my past warmongering as a mental health issue and think we as a nation are mentally ill.

It's not all doom and gloom though, behavioral disorders can be corrected if we'll just acknowledge our behavior. I did it on a personal level and I think as a nation, we can do the same.  

As a child I was taught war games and I've played those games for most of my 28 year life.  This is why I deeply value my 3 tours in Operation Enduring Freedom.  As Sgt. George, I gained an understanding of life outside the box I was raised in.  

Until recently, I was always the cowboy - but now, I will forever be the Indian.