* A Different Afghan Winter Photo Essay Series

Green

Permaculture: Being Vulnerable with one another and with the Earth’s Feelings

Bamiyan Peace Park: Even the Stones will Speak

Equal

Genderless Bikes in Afghanistan

Afghan Street Kid Mehdi’s Disappearing Dream

Another hard reality about Afghan duvets

Nonviolent

Relationships can heal ‘terrorism’

Ending the war inside and outside us

For Omid, Mursal, Mehdi, and the Afghan Peace Volunteers, this winter in Afghanistan was different from the usual.

“This is the Afghan story, that I’ve been a breadwinner since I was very little,” 19 year old Omid said with perceptible angst. It is a usual story for young Afghans to have prematurely lost one or two parents, and to have to pick themselves up again and again to face the world. “I’ve taken up different kinds of ‘jobs for the poor’ ( ‘gharibi kardum’).”

“But, it still doesn’t quite work out,” Omid looked down in pensive thought. I could only imagine how Omid had tried twice to smuggle himself to Europe, once running away from threatening gunshots.

“I’ve found a flicker of hope this winter, helping with the duvet project, and then learning about the climate, sun, water, soil and food through the permaculture design course.”

15 year old Mehdi had signed up for the course too.

I wish he had stayed throughout the course with Nisar, another street kid, and 42 other Afghan youth. Mehdi told me shyly, “Teacher, I thought someone else had taken my place in the course.” My guess was that his father needed him to find some extra income for the family. It was to make ends meet that Mehdi had to stop schooling last year. Isn’t this especially hard for an industrious, considerate kid who dreams of being a doctor?

Mursal is 13 or 14, and after two years in the Borderfree Street Kids School, she has discovered the activist within her, recently learning to ride the bicycle with the Borderfree Afghan Cycling Club. One day, she approached me and other volunteer teachers, saying, “I want to organize support for street vendors who are hit by the police with their batons.” My soul lit up, recognizing the struggle against such injustices which sparked the Tunisian revolution and ensuing Arab Spring.

Witnessing the energy of these never-say-die stalwarts who are too young to be shouldering responsibilities which adults have shirked, I feel like I’m at the edge of a cliff.

All over the world, we’re grasping this reality: the political, military and economic elite are bringing ‘The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist’s doomsday’s clock of earth and humanity’ to three ‘minutes to midnight’.

That’s why more and more people are autonomously building another world. Like Omid, Mehdi, Mursal and the Afghan Peace Volunteers, they are saying, “#Enough! is #Enough!”

I’ve tried to tell these stories through *six photo essays. I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I did in putting them together.

They depict the #Enough! GENeration I’m privileged to be working with, tender human beings who wish to nurture Green, Equal and Nonviolent relationships.

They are sick and tired of war, and want to abolish it. They represent the fragile, better sides of our human nature. They are the 99%.

It excites me that they could change everything even if their group ceases to be, because they try to work with ‘root meanings’ and not ‘superficial terms’, and because they’re suggesting a way, and not a thing or a person that can be eliminated or imprisoned.

These green, equal and nonviolent relationships can change our politics, economy, environment and our understanding of safe and secure spaces. They have been changing me by laughing, crying, worrying, healing and shivering with me.

Their love is carrying me through the whole range of emotions which point me to a better world, to who I really am, a human, a fellow human being.

Relationships can heal terrorism

When, across a language barrier, Najib befriended me,

I began to heal from capitalist and militarist notions that were destroying Najib’s life.

He was no longer a Holly-Bollywood Pashtun ‘terrorist’ or a ‘fighting-age male’.

Young people can solve their disputes better than the adults of today,

if we guide them to, like peer mediator Ellis Brooks did.

The inner peacemakers in us spring up spontaneously,

including among the elderly in Okinawa,

and the refugees in Finland,

and the Afghan Peace Volunteers in Kabul, among all of us.

When we listen, as in understand ‘the other’ soul,

our stories can transform even the Japanese Defense Bureau,

and gel us together into a tight bunch, potentially unbreakable,

restful in gratitude that we know one another.

We encounter the human spirit and music from every continent

and tell one another, “You are not German; you are us.”

Person by person,

all equal learners,

of the way the earth and earthlings are connected,

singing along with the doves

that free our ‘ghosts’ so we can be real,

so we can understand each other’s rhythms,

and the sun,

and the circles under the sky who laugh,

eat, and drink in fellowship

initiated by the deep recognition of each other,

saying, “No More Violence

Nature is Our Mother,

I am You.”

Relationships can heal terrorism

01 Najib and I in Pakistan

When, across a language barrier, Najib befriended me,

I began to heal from capitalist and militarist notions that were destroying Najib’s life.

He was no longer a Holly-Bollywood Pashtun ‘terrorist’ or a ‘fighting-age male’.

02 Ellis teaches street kids peer mediation

Young people can solve their disputes better than the adults of today,

if we guide them to, like peer mediator Ellis Brooks did.

04 children learn fast and happily

The inner peacemakers in us spring up spontaneously,

05 linking arms in Okinawa

including among the elderly in Okinawa,

06 relationships with asylum seekers in Finland

and the refugees in Finland,

03 Ellis shares skills with APVS

07 a critical mass of nonviolent relationships needed

and the Afghan Peace Volunteers in Kabul, among all of us.

08 Global Listening and friendships

When we listen, as in understand ‘the other’ soul,

09 Japanese peace activists speak to Jap Defense Bureau

our stories can transform even the Japanese Defense Bureau,

10 APVs with British activists Ellis and Maya

and gel us together into a tight bunch, potentially unbreakable,

11 Some APVs with Kathy Kelly and Carolyn Coe

restful in gratitude that we know one another.

11 Street Kids meet Australian activist Gail Malone

We encounter the human spirit and music from every continent

12 APVs are good freinds with German filmakers Nik and Ronja

and tell one another, “You are not German; you are us.”

13 person to person

Person by person,

14 community to community

all equal learners,

15 our world is one family

of the way the earth and earthlings are connected,

16 peace doves music community

singing along with the doves

17 we are human beings not ghosts

that free our ‘ghosts’ so we can be real,

18 dancing together

so we can understand each other’s rhythms,

19 Lifting the green house together

and the sun and the earth,

20 Healing together with US veteran

and the circles under the sky who laugh,

21 Tea Project

eat, and drink in fellowship

22 Relationships  bring peace

initiated by the deep recognition of each other,

saying, “No More Violence

Nature is Our Mother,

I am You.”

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