By Anonymous (not verified) on September 21, 2012

On this International Day of Peace I am sitting in Kabul, Afghanistan, with a handful of youth that want nothing but peaceful coexistence in their lives. Their entire lives have been surrounded by war, death, corruption, and struggle. Peace has been in short supply. For three years the Afghan Peace Volunteers have worked to develop friendships across ethnic lines in Kabul and various provinces throughout Afghanistan. The work has been difficult, trust is hard to come by in this war torn land, but they are adamant that nonviolence is the only way forward.

Established in 1981, by the United Nations General Assembly, the International Day of Peace was to coincide with its opening session. The first Peace Day was observed on September 21st, 1982. In 1982 the Soviet Union was increasing its troop presence in Afghanistan and facing fierce fighting throughout the provinces.

Thirty years later Afghanistan is still at war. The opponents have changed, and the weaponry has changed. The War on Terror, Armored Humvees, IED’s, suicide bombers, night raids, smart bombs, and drones have all entered the American lexicon—and Afghan lives.

The constant through all these years is the suffering of the noncombatants. Just this week, a van was blown up by an IED in southern Helmand province, killing 9 women and 3 children. No group has claimed responsibility for the blast. A drone strike before dawn in Laghman Province killed 8 women gathering firewood and injured 8 more.

I spoke with a father of six children in ParwanSa refugee camp. He has been an Internally Displaced Person for 11 years, living in a small mud-brick enclosure with a plastic, canvas, and cardboard roof. I asked if the government had offered any assistance for the coming winter. He said the government has done nothing; he could only count on God to take care of his family.

Oct 7th will mark the 11th anniversary of America’s war in Afghanistan. 11 years and $550 billion dollars later, peace is still elusive.

The war has pushed the Taliban out of power, but the current government is full of the very same warlords that were carving up Afghanistan prior to the Taliban’s rise. These “representatives” have very little backing among the people, mainly because they have continued to line their pockets while their constituents suffer. The call for peace may fill their speeches, but to work for peace distracts from their income.

The International Security Assistance Forces, as well as the Afghan Army and Afghan Police force, often employ strong-arm tactics and struggle to bring a semblance of security to the countryside. Security in Kabul is tentative as well, with suicide bombings and armed attacks on the rise. On Sept 18th, a woman rammed a car full of explosives into a van containing 9 foreign workers, killing herself, all 9 foreigners, their Afghan translator, as well as a passerby. While temporary security may be imposed with an iron fist, peace cannot be forced.

On Sept 19th, an Afghan holiday in the remembrance of the death of Burhanuddin Rabbani, a warlord turned “peace envoy” who was killed by a suicide bomber in his home, President Hamid Karzai called on Afghans to pursue peace. A generation that has known nothing but war has little faith in this government’s calls for peace while the very same government loots the country. The government-led peace initiative seems to have died with Rabbani a year ago.

The past week has been disastrous for Afghans, and points towards more mayhem in the future. While profits are still being generated for arms suppliers, reconstruction experts, and contractors, peace has not been generated for anyone.

In America, peace is never spoken of outside the context of war or security. In Obama’s acceptance speech in Charlotte, he mentioned America’s “pursuit of peace” exactly once, shortly after getting cheers for claiming, “Osama bin Laden is dead.”

On this International Day of Peace groups will come together around the world (and yes, even in Afghanistan) to promote peace, cooperation, friendship and love. These efforts are necessary, if for no other reason then to remind people peace is an option, a possibility, and a personal responsibility.

It is necessary to counter the flames of hatred.

It is necessary to be inspired by those who walked this path before us.

It is necessary for our sanity as human beings.

Peace is the path.

Johnny Barber is in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he is living with the Afghan Peace Volunteers and representing Voices for Creative Nonviolence. His writing and photos are posted at www.oneBrightpearl-jb.blogspot.com and www.oneBrightpearl.com.

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Editor's note: This contribution by the late journalist I.F. Stone first appeared in our January 1975 magazine.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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