“Voting with Their Feet”


On the 28th of March, 2014, at about 4 p.m., the Afghan Peace Volunteers heard a loud explosion nearby. For the rest of the evening and night, they anxiously waited for the sound of rocket fire and firing to stop.  It was reported that a 10 year old girl, and the four assailants, were killed.

Four days later, they circulated a video, poem and photos prefaced by this note: “We had been thinking about an appropriate response to the violence perpetrated by the Taliban, other militia, the Afghan government, and the U.S./NATO coalition of 50 countries.

So, on the 31st of March 2014, in building alternatives and saying ‘no’ to all violence and all forms of war-making, a few of us went to an area near the place which was attacked, and there, we planted some trees. — Love and thanks, The Afghan Peace Volunteers

Plant Trees Not Bombs in Afghanistan

It was the jolting vibrations
that shook our senses,
nonetheless directed by fellow humans.
Our eyes darted from mysterious fears
of losing one another.
“There’s been an explosion. Don’t come this way!”,
torn by our unspoken wish to huddle together,
as if madness could be scattered
among the fragile shells of ourselves.
as if we could
dream the unknown away.
We couldn’t,
the vision of connecting with other humans via Skype
stressing our time schedule,
as if there was a timetable
that could be kept in war,
as if sanity could be pursued
when our sight was wet.
My temper broke again,
Ali began to punch the wall,
Abdulhai bravely confessed disappointment with self,
and then, Faiz’s tears opened Ali’s river,
of sobs that were hard for me to hear,
though I knew then
that I was embracing love’s defiance.
I saw that yesterday too.
Each of us,
not far from the burnt out and rocket damaged house of death,
planting trees,
with the street kids Martin, Mahdi and Bahran,
then the officials, the police, students, a street girl named Gulsom.
They wanted life too
Finally, an Afghan lady came,
stoically holding a sapling,
not a word,
but a hundred hurts and wishes
were in her posture.
With steady hands used to making bread,
she planted roots for all of us

an-Afghan-lady-plants-her-wishesAn Afghan lady plants her wishes.

a-posture-of-wishesA posture of wishes.

planting-togetherPlanting together.

toorpekai-plantingToorpekai planting.

watering-the-treesWatering the trees.

row-of-planted-saplingsRow of planted saplings.

Kathy Kelly (Kathy@vcnv.org) co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence (www.vcnv.org).  While in Kabul, she is a guest of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, www.ourjourneytosmile.com

KATHY KELLY co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence and has worked closely with the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers. She is the author of Other Lives, Other Dreams published by CounterPunch / AK Press. She can be reached at: Kathy@vcnv.org  This article was first published on Telesur English.

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