Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist
A few years ago, a young boy in Afghanistan was captured on film wearing a homemade Lionel Messi jersey, and in the whirlwind of sympathy that followed he was briefly afforded the fantasy of being beloved across the world, then being whisked away to Qatar to meet his hero and receive an official jersey to replace the one he had crafted from a striped plastic bag.
He then returned home to a region where Taliban edicts forbade him to play his beloved football in public. This year, his family has been forced to run from their home in fear that Taliban thugs were planning to abduct him in an attempt to ransom him for money — assuming that their fleeting contact with fame had given them access to millions of dollars. The jersey was one of the items left behind in the scramble to escape what sounded like quickly approaching gunfire.
The boy, Murtaza Ahmadi, is the exact same age as my son and they share the same passion for the beautiful game, which is why this story has leapt to the top of the pile marked Currently Stabbing Me In The Heart.
Two weeks ago the United States reported that they were close to an agreement in principle with this same murderous, fascist cabal that would begin a U.S. troop withdrawal from the country to occur under the condition that the Taliban promise very sincerely that they never let their territory become a haven for terrorist groups like al-Qaida again. The question of their brutality and human rights abuses seems not to have been asked. We are attempting to save face after 17-plus years of conflict by pretending that the Taliban can be thought of as a legitimate political entity instead of a criminal organization; that we can trust them to confine their evils to their own backyard instead of letting it range freely across our increasingly smaller planet.
This, even though we have decades upon decades of history and psychology that warn us otherwise about regimes of bloodthirsty sociopaths. This, as if tolerating their policies with full knowledge of how those policies will be inflicted upon innocent human beings doesn’t make us just as complicit in those crimes.
I would ask what kind of nation we are, that leverages the welfare of children by empowering their abusers for the sake of political expediency. But today is one year since Parkland, a little over seven since Newtown, almost 20 since Columbine. It is less than a year since the government began tearing families apart at the border for the sin of their desperation and it is less than two weeks since the Trump administration admitted it has neither plan, nor infrastructure, nor motivation for reuniting those families. The president continues to entertain the anti-vaccination movement with supportive messages while measles outbreaks rage within pockets of the country; he openly expresses pilfering disaster relief funds for California and Puerto Rico to help pay for his wall. Education and the viability of resources such as air and water have been placed in the talons of vultures to be picked at until the bones fall apart, and the departments established to provide even the barest minimum of food, shelter, and healthcare have been branded with contempt and gradually dismantled.
I know all of the sentences that I left out of the above paragraph. I know that I exist in the tense space between my awareness of our nation’s fundamental character flaws, my threshold for naming all of them aloud, and my frustration at our collective exceptionalism, which hinders us from reflecting and recognizing that they are flaws at all.
Right now I cannot trust this nation to care about what happens to my own seven year-old soccer player because I know it doesn’t care what happens to Murtaza Ahmadi, either.