By Dr Hakim

8th Aug 2017

“We need to admit that society usually sees the doctor as being more successful as the farmer,” Latif suggested. There were agreeable nods around the room, in which ten youth were assembled as part of a learning-discussion group which the Afghan Peace Volunteers’ ( APVs ) call the #Earth! GENeration ( Green, Equal, Nonviolent ) Circle.

 01 #Earth! GEN Circle in Kabul

An #Earth GENeration Circle in Kabul, facilitated by Latif

These youth are the new Afghan generation. Each of them is forming their identity while having to deal with many challenges in war-torn Afghanistan. In the Circle, they ask one another, “Who are we? Who is the successful person?”

To facilitate their conversation Latif shows them three photos: a school student who gets the top position and prize, the ex U.S. Commander-in-Chief Obama, and Afghanistan’s Vice President General Dostum.

A vivid exchange of opinions ensue. I find this process remarkable and important.

Remarkable because becoming rich and powerful is a presumptive social ideal that’s not questioned enough. 51% of the Borderfree Afghan Street Kids want to be doctors, but why?

Important because the environmental destruction, class warfare and militarism threatening our world is partly based on the unscientific belief that the world’s elite are human beings who are morally or intellectually superior and deserve our trust to make any decision they want.

In the #Earth! Gen Circles, the youth learn from the historical examples of nonviolence demonstrated by Gandhi, Badshah Khan and Martin Luther King, an Indian Hindu, a Pashtun Muslim and an African American Christian respectively, immediately understanding that good human values like nonviolence is ‘border-free’.

 02 Latif wants to end the superiority complex

Latif ( left ) at an outing, sharing his thoughts about the mindset of ‘superiority’

At an outing for the APV Coordinators, Latif felt that the idea of ‘superiority’ prevents us from nurturing ‘a loving space’ in society. “How can we be comfortable with one another if any one of us thinks of himself/herself as ‘better’, ‘more capable’ or ‘more talented’ than others?”

Farzana replied, “But isn’t it also true that some students study harder and do better in their exams and are therefore better students?” Her peer, Muqadisa, spoke to this sentiment, “I used to think this way too, till I saw how it had negatively affected the classmate I was competing with. I may do better in the exam but that doesn’t mean I’m a better person than my classmate.”

These societal interactions and expectations are of such relevance to the Afghan Peace Volunteers in their work for peace that they have recorded a short radio program and video skit named “An Afghan skit on ‘success’

The makeshift props and simple script belie the clarity of values they are seeking.

What they are working through are basic and therefore radical ( root-based ) life philosophies and practices:

Who do I respect and admire more, the honest labourer or the selfish President?

How do I treat any human being, whatever their race, faith, job or economic status?

How do I treat Mother Nature, despite the myth that human beings can do whatever they want as ‘lords of the earth’ or ‘masters of the universe’?

Would my life become more meaningful or fulfilling if I became ‘richer and more powerful’ than all others, or worse, in today’s global crises, if I became ‘richer and more powerful’ at the expense of the Earth and humanity?

03 Who is the successful young Afghan

An Afghan skit on ‘success’ by Nisar, Zekerullah and Ali ( left to right)

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Technorati Tags: Afghan peace, Afghan Peace Volunteers, Afghan poor, Afghan rich, Afghan success, Afghan War