Why We Love Afghanistan And The Lessons You Could Learn From Us

From the mark of Alexander the Great in 329 BC to the Asian culture in the 6th Century at Bamyan to the Sultans in 1194 creating a World Heritage Site at the Minaret of Jam, Afghanistan is an intersection of many of the cultures that formed our world. Long sought after for its natural mineral resources and geographic location, the country of Afghanistan has suffered at the hands of brutal tyrants for centuries. This weekend marks the Persian celebration of Nowruz which many Afghanis enjoy in a way similar to American Thanksgiving with special foods and time with family and friends. Yet, the Taliban does not consider it to be an authentic holiday to the Afghan culture, so they discourage the celebration of it. The following article written by an Afghan friend of mine shows the beauty of the country and what lies beneath the layers of war outsiders see. I think the pride he has in his country is something we all can identify with and learn from. Please continue to pray for Afghanistan and encourage American support of our allies there; it is not a safe country and won’t be till the Taliban are removed from it.

by Merzae

There is an innate sense in all of us to love the land we are in. It is the ultimate thought of beauty that exists for all human beings more or less, I do not think there is any human being on earth who does not love his land–even those of us who must live in lands plagued by bad economic times, bad politics, war, and natural disasters. Even when your native country is an unfavorable atmosphere forcing you to leave it for a season, there is still a love for that country beating from the depths of your heart that will not rest until you can return to it. It is the will of every Afghan–wherever we are in the world–to be buried in my land so that, after death, we may sleep peacefully in our land.

Afghanistan is one of the saddest countries in the world because of the suffering we see here. We see death daily through war and hunger. Jobs are hard to find and even harder to keep. We struggle to find safe places to live and raise our families, and we worry about the future we have to give our children. We have become the victim of wars fought by foreign empires seeking to control our land for its natural and historic resources. They come to take from us and leave us in the dark ages–unadvancing into the current opportunities for growth and technology.

Our country is strategically placed geographically to provide intelligence for other surrounding countries in the region. This has made us become the graveyard of all the empires that have tried to conquer us, yet they keep coming. As a people, we have become extremely xenophobic; we show love to strangers as our guests, but we don’t want them to become our lords and rulers.

You may ask why such patriotism has not been met with prosperity and development in Afghanistan. The answer to that is complex and goes through centuries, but it is also a simple one. We do not move forward because we are constantly held back by war. Those who temporarily conquer us don’t have the vision to develop us into a globally contributing country either. They seek to use us and move on from here to conquer more lands. The majority of Afghans do not know who to blame for this dysfunctional existence. The multidimensional and complex question we keep asking ourselves is: do we live like this because of something we have done, our conquerors, or both? Despite all of its problems, we Afghans still love our country.

We hold everything dear here. We enjoy a mild climate most of the year and have some of the best natural foods because of it. We love to pack picnics and escape to places like Band-e Amir National Park when the weather is nice, and we can safely do so. We are also deeply cultured and prideful about our roots. This has led us to nurture many scholars and poets such as Maulana Jalaluddin Balkhi, Ibn Sina, and Abu Rihan.

We are the land of fire and smoke, of antiquity, and of the war-torn. We burn to build. We love this ruin and mourning. We stay and fight to improve our situation, and we won’t give up till our country has its own path to prosperity. Problems will never stop us from loving our homeland. We Afghans are hardworking people with a rich, ancient culture and beautiful land to call our home.

There is no Afghan who has left the country because of loss of interest. Only the circumstances of the times they are living in can force them temporarily away. Still, when they go, their hearts are filled with the love of their country. There is a famous Afghan song when our people emigrate. It says:

I went homeless, I went from house to house
Without you, I always went shoulder to shoulder with sadness
My only love from you is my sign
Without you, my poem and song have no salt
My land is tired of persecution
My land is silent and silent
My land is suffering from incurability
My Land
When did my land make you sad?
When did my land open for you?
When has my land been faithful to you?
My Land
My Moon And Star My Way Again
My proposition is not everywhere
They stole your treasure for their own sake
Break Your Heart Whoever Turns
My land is tired of persecution
My land is silent and silent
My land is suffering from incurability
My Land
My land is like a waiting eye
My land is like a dusty plain
My land is like a heart of sorrow

Afghan Immigration Song

The love for our homeland is so great that we consider living and dying abroad as a disgrace. We love Afghanistan as one loves a child; it is a feeling that comes from the soul. It has nothing to do with the facilities and comforts that are provided. Though a tyrannical and terrorist regime (the Taliban) currently rules our land, we know their end is destruction. Though we struggle to live through poverty and economic problems, through war, burning houses, and a reign of darkness, still love remains. We are ready to sacrifice our lives for this great love.

Learn from us! America, you have the best country in the world in terms of facilities, sweetness, blessings, comfort, and standards of living. Enjoy your freedom and the light you have there. Create a stable and peaceful atmosphere and use the climate and resources afforded to you to enjoy your life. Love your country with all the gentle tenderness of a lover–it is your gift to steward and maintain for future generations.

Nowruz is the celebration of the start of Spring in the northern hemisphere. It’s exact date changes annually as it depends on when the Earth’s equator passes the Sun and day and night become equal in length. This happens between March 19th and 21st.

Specific foods and celebrations differ depending on where it is celebrated, but it is generally a shared cultural holiday observed by over 300 million people worldwide. To learn more about how it is celebrated in Afghanistan, read this article.

One of the primary dishes used to celebrate Nowruz in Afghanistan is a mixed dried fruit and nut dish called “Haft Mewa” or “Seven Fruits”. One of the seven ingredients in the recipe from my friend was not able to be sourced in America. I was not able to source the Oleaster (Lotus tree fruit or Russian Olives) to make this myself. However, Afghani Humaira Ghilzai uses another recipe that replaces the Oleaster with dried cherries. You can find most the ingredients at nuts.com including some pre-blanched nuts to save you that step. Here is a video touring Little Kabul in Northern California and showing you how to make the modified version of Haft Mewa.

The Boatman and the Humanitarian Crisis to Save Afghan Refugees

Updated: September 12, 2021

(The Lord your God) defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.

Deuteronomy 10:18-19 NIV

Introducing the Digital Dunkirk Boatman

Recently, I met a traveler known as the Boatman (identity reserved to protect the mission) who was in active military service. When I met him, I was immediately impressed with his sense of poise and charisma. He was confident but not cocky. He was bold and secure with boundaries to protect his values. He kept his actions and intent pure. He was highly skilled: the kind of man who could read a room and know exactly how best to serve it. It was impressive how intuitive, wise, giving, and kind he was to strangers much less people he knew and loved. We sat over dinner conversing under the stars on a warm summer night in Florida.

When the Afghan refugee crisis 2021 happened, and I heard he was directly involved; I knew I wanted to help. This is more than his story; it is the story of the thousands of service men and women and innocent civilians that are or will be publicly executed if we don’t take action NOW.

The Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan

Since the War on Terror began under the Bush Administration in September 2001, American troops have occupied the Middle East in effort to stop terrorist acts and create a hostile environment for them in the areas where they were breeding. (For more on this history, check out this detailed article by Cato Institute.) 

This year, the Biden Administration determined that it was going to pull all US troops and support out of Afghanistan by 9-11-21. They thought they had enough steady support to keep Kabul as a safe port of entry, but they did not. As soon as the troops were gone, the Taliban reentered and took control of Kabul. When Kabul fell, President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, and the Taliban took over the government. According to this article from CNBC, the Taliban regime will allow foreign (US and UK) citizens to leave freely through August 31, 2021, but all Afghan nationals will be stopped at the gates. Furthermore, they say they will not allow any evacuations past the 31st, and any attempt to do so will face severe “consequences”. 

The Taliban wants to shift the narrative that US evacuation is a gift to Afghanistan. An article published by Aljazeera yesterday claims that the Taliban today is a powerful leadership that can negotiate with the skill of western leaders, but they were denied their rightful reign of power by US occupation. They want us to believe all of Afghanistan is excited to see the “new Taliban” come into power. If that were truly the case, why are there so many refugees stuffing themselves into cargo planes or strapping themselves onto the landing gear and risking falling from the sky versus staying behind in the “new Taliban”? 

Afghan citizens want to leave the country because they know they will be killed if they stay. This is especially true if they offered any support to US troops during their occupation. You can hear some of their stories first-hand in this article from the New York Times

With boots on the ground, here is what Boatman shared with me:

(Anyone left behind will) sadly have to stay and fight and hope they can defend their families from the atrocities the Taliban will unleash when we leave. Worst case scenario, the internet will be shut down, and they will begin murdering the innocent. These (people) are my family. I know their names, faces, and birthdays, and I will memorialize every one of them that doesn’t make it home because they are still my family. My children and grandchildren will know their names; they will not be stricken from the Earth like refuse. There are thousands of people like me living this nightmare right now as are the 6,000 service members having to bear witness to this human suffering because of the orders dictated to them by their Commander-in-Chief. We are already psychological casualties of this obscenity, but everyone can still stop this if they will email and call (their government representatives) until this is corrected.

How to Help Afghan Refugees

Because of the immediate need to get these people to safety, a grassroots effort is organizing to provide aid. Here are the top three ways you can help save Afghan Refugees today!

  1. Contact your representatives to urge the Biden Administration to protect Afghan allies.
  2. Volunteer your time, talent, and resources to organizations like Society76 to help those in need including refugee centers. As these families come out, they are needing housing for groups as large as 15-24 family members.
  3. Contribute financially to GoFundMe’s like Helping Afghans in Crisis and Flyaway that are helping to pay for transportation and housing to get refugees to safety.

How the Evacuation Efforts Continue Post Cutoff

In a recent conversation with The Boatman, I was updated on what happened with the evacuation process and, specifically, the cutoff period of the 31st. Here is what he shared.

Though the cutoff to leave Afghanistan was on August 31, 2021, the majority of US planes left on the 30th. Twenty-four hours were left on the clock, and the American government did nothing to help the crisis during that time.

Entire groups of people were denied exit because of paperwork. Families we promised citizenship in exchange for helping us were trying to leave with their families (parents, siblings, and children). If anyone in that group didn’t have a passport with a VISA stamp already on it or other acceptable documentation, they were denied asylum or exit from Afghanistan. In most cases, the people denied were children of our allies. The impossible choice was this: leave your children and come with us or stay and defend yourselves because we can’t help you here.

Press releases from the White House will never tell the truth on this, but these are the words from boots on the ground that had to carry out the orders.

At the time of this writing, US citizens are still able to evacuate with proper documentation, but it is much harder for Afghan allies. Neighboring countries are now refusing to help because of fear of Taliban retaliation. Nevertheless, we have not given up our effort to get every trapped Afghan ally to safety.

Afghan refugees stuck in Afghanistan now are living as slaves did along the underground railroad. Generosity of strangers and the protection of God is all they have right now.

When and if they get out, the next biggest need is housing. Afghan families are large and do life together. They will need housing near each other that can accommodate 15-25 people. Whether this is a temporary situation of people opening a room in their homes or a more permanent solution of offering places to rent, the refugees are prepared to be respectful and responsible tenants in their new host countries.

Another need they have is learning the English language. While many local community colleges offer this service for free in the United States, refugees may not be able to transport themselves to the location and/or may be afraid of how others perceive them.

If this cause moves your heart, prayerfully consider how you can be a help to these people. No one person can solve ever problem that exists here, but if you do what God leads you to do without fear, you bless yourself and others in the process. Being the hands and feet of Jesus in this broken world is a blessing and a calling we all have to fulfill.