Matt Pearl

You can’t lament everything, or you’ll be sobbing about something all the time.

When I think about Afghanistan and the past 20 years, I get frustrated/ So does virtually everyone I know, for one reason or another.

I’m sorry to leave those people, and in a distinctly different way, a part of me wishes we wouldn’t have felt compelled to disrupt their world in the first place, especially in view of how it is ending.

It pains me to think of their artists, their musicians, the women in particular who have found ways to thrive following our American intervention in their country. I have read of a folk musician who early this week was taken from his home and killed. No music.

No art.

No joy. Only stilted devotion.

A female television host who debated with a Taliban member has fled the country with her family. She knows what comes next if she stays.

I can’t help but lament. It hurts my heart to think of children fearing for their lives, for the lives of their parents, all because of a regime powered by a singular, rigid, religious zeal that allows no room for debate, that hold no tolerance for difference of opinion.

I’m a God-fearing man, but I would never hope to see the church and state join together as one. This is what happens when religion becomes law: oppression, intolerance and a thousand other terrors of which God would never approve.

It has become a daily ritual for me: I think about how this world could be, if oppression were to reign in all nations. As imperfect as the United States may be at times, as easy as America has been to criticize at certain moments, we live a life that the world’s truly oppressed people would call ‘paradise.’

As much as I want to be relieved that we left Afghanistan, I lament. I feel sorrow when I think about folks who for years had begun to exhale, dreaming the dream of liberty and free elections, just in time to see a couple of weeks erase 20 years of struggle.

We can’t imagine. If I get frustrated at Uncle Sam, or at the State of Missouri, or this county commissioner or that state representative, I can sit at my keyboard and write without fear of persecution, incarceration or death. Many Afghan folks began to feel the same way, and look what began to happen: the arts were again beginning to thrive; women were taking roles of leadership and prominence in their now-public lives.

And it’s gone. Or, if not gone, then at least on its way out. What a shame.

You see, I believe there are good people everywhere. Who are the good people? The ones who love the things that are beneficial to the good of mankind. The lovers of peace, the seekers of knowledge, the caretakers and helpers. Afghanistan has such people, I am sure.

Who is closer to God: a professed Christian who has no love for peace or kindness, or a Muslim from birth who lives in peace, who is filled with hope and who practices charity? That’s not a question asked to aggravate you, but one offered to illustrate my point: are there not good, loving people everywhere?

This is why I lament the way Afghanistan has gone, and why I lament the way things have ended. I would start typing names of everyone I blame; I would list singly the policies that have brought us to this point; I would call out men as fools and murderers – but all of that would be foolishness. I read an article in a prominent national newspaper, an opinion piece who author listed everyone he blamed for the Afghan issues. That’s not my thing.

Instead, I’ll blame the qualities that are the worst in this world, the qualities of greed, violence, hatred, lust for power, jealousy – the same demons that have caused life to become intolerable for some many people over the ages. May patience, hope, helpfulness and love prevail over the evils of this world.

Matt Pearl owns and operates newspapers in King City, Albany and Grant City.