The thing I like about the written word is that after you read it, it is still there. I just heard a story on NPR that is so important and it was gone. It was there for a moment and gone.
A woman who has traveled in Afghanistan has written a book. I didn’t get her name or the name of her book, but I got this… In war-torn northern Afghanistan, obliterated by years of war with Russia, there is a clinic that was built by the US, but it has no doctor. After fleeing the war, the people are returning. There is a large refugee camp and there is a school but no teacher. There is a playground with a large sign that tells everyone that it was a gift of the United States. When the people were asked if they used the playground, the people replied, “What use is a playground when our children are dying?”
The homes, built of clay, crumbled after a torrential rain. A few weeks later the government showed up, gave them six loaves of bread, and left.
The military is concerned that the Taliban is gaining a foothold there. Duh.
Yes, Duh. If we want to end this thing, this war on terror, we need to stop shooting and start building. Building what? We need to build schools, solar electric generating capacity, water systems, and, most of all, trust.
It might be less glamorous than war, but it is cheaper, more productive, and I doubt that our soldiers will get PTSD from genuinely helping people. What if we taught our soldiers how to do something besides killing. What if we taught them other skills, like plumbing, wiring, cement work, painting. Teach mechanical skills for lots of machines, not just war machines. Math is a language of its own. We could teach soldiers how to teach math. Turn the military into a Peace Corp where the skills our men and women learn could be come a vocation that would be useful when they leave the corp.
Make this work. Start with a portion and eventually the whole military. This would defeat terrorism. It would also change the way we think—something we sorely need to do. It could be that easy.