I woke up today to 14 new friend requests. I’ve gotten four more these hours I have been up this morning. In the last two days I have accepted at least another 40 Facebook friend requests. I will admit that I am feeling more than a bit overwhelmed and I’m also worried about what my American friends are going to think of me when they see that my Facebook friend’s list is a stream of Middle Eastern names.
“You need to be careful Amber. Your account is going to be flagged by the government. It looks like you are being recruited by ISIS.”
I am embarrassed to admit that I am afraid. I am afraid that people will not understand why I reached out to ask in the first place. My request was simple,” I do not know anything about Pakistan. Will you please teach me?”
The answer was an overwhelming, “YES, and then the friend requests began and also the personal messages, most of which just want to chat. I do not have time for chatting, but I made a few exceptions. The exception being that I am happy to read the messages that are sent to me, but I only respond if the content is informative.
I’ve learned a lot about Pakistan these past two days. The first thing you should know is that Pakistan is NOT a Middle Eastern country. I know this thanks to Google, which I have been using to help me understand the map and the voices who have been reaching out to tell their stories.
“The Middle East (or, formerly more common, the Near East) is a region that spans southwestern Asia and northern Africa. Mistakenly and only in the last five to seven years some have added Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India to the list of Middle Eastern countries. However, those three countries are located in South Asia not the Middle East. It is important to point out that the geographical term, Middle East, represents the point of view of those who live in the western part of the world and it is only accurate to use if you actually do live to the west of the Middle East.” (Source)
My ignorance may seem appalling to you. A dear friend of mine, a guy friend, chastised me for not knowing basic geography. “How could you not know that Pakistan is not in the Middle East, Amber?”
My retort is that I simply do not hold onto knowledge that isn’t useful, and being that I never planned on traveling to that part of the world, there really was no need to know the location on a map. I remember that they made me memorize the globe when I was in primary school. I also needed to be able to recite all of our United States of America, along with the accompanying capital. I got 100% on most tests and my grades were all A’s, but then how did that information serve any purpose? By the time I was grown boarders were changed, the map was different, and I grew to know I would never travel because I am afraid. I want to live more than I want to know the globe. “What if I go to the wrong place and they cut off my head with a knife?”
I think it’s pretty sad that when I envision world travel my first thoughts are about how the travel is going to kill me. If I travel to Europe I imagine that I will be kidnapped and locked in a Hostel where I will be mutilated by wealthy business people. That fear may seem unfounded, but I watched a fictional movie that described exactly that condition. This is what I know to be true about people. If they imagine it, it can be made real.
I didn’t see any harm in asking though.. “Hey Facebook, can you tell me what I am missing in Pakistan?”
Through my new Facebook friends I learned that the Kashmir conflict (source) is still not resolved. This research helped me understand that there is great tension between the people of India and the people of Pakistan. They are fighting over territory, and Kashmir is a scrap of land that both countries view as vital to the importance of their nations. India and Pakistan have fought three wars over Kashmir, including the Indo-Pakistani Wars of 1947, 1965 and 1999. It is my understanding too, that both countries are nuclear armed. I did not research the latter claim. I simply made note of it in my FEAR file.
Why is Kashmir so important? One man from Pakistan implied that it is religious war, but I do not believe that. I simply can not fathom why people with ever need to fight and wage war over spiritual beliefs, and yes, I am well aware that nearly every war throughout time was on behalf of some God or righteous spirit quest. Many atheist I know blame religion for the cause of men having reason to war. I would argue that men wage war because it was the game they grew up playing in childhood.
I am not a man though. I am a mother of this earth and I love and cry for all children equally. I see the evil that men do and I wonder if their mothers held them enough. How can little boys grow to become HATE and HURTFUL things? I understand the nature of man so closely that I do not want to pick the kindest man as my mate. I want to choose one with the most power and that supersedes any class or social status. If the world returns to the savage that it is I want the man I have standing beside me to be capable of returning evil so we can live to love again. He should also know how to make primitive fire. He should also be well versed in harvesting seeds and planting them. He should know what to grow and what can be grown. He will love the land first because it is ours to be from and to return to.
Tell me my place in this world full of wires. Yesterday I spent four hours swallowed in traffic. There were so many cars around me I felt like I was in a prison of aluminum cans ready for a compactor. My car was stranded, and stuck, while giant rigs pushed through the pile of us smaller cars like dinosaurs with little tiny people riding inside of them. “How can anyone be happy like this?”
I asked the question out loud because I was speaking to my dad. He grumbled this question back at me, “Happy about what?”
“I’m watching the truck drivers. They spend their lives stuck in traffic. I just do not know how anyone can be happy that way.” I told my dad where my thoughts had lingered.
He was irritated. My father is always irritated with my thinking. “Of course they are happy. They live the grind and they know what to expect. They are used to it. They are not in a hurry or bothered by slowing down. They know they will get there because they always do.”
I mentioned my new Facebook friends to my dad. He was both flabbergasted and disgusted. “I don’t see why you asked in the first place. It’s a waste of time. You have work to do Amber.”
I agreed with him before hanging up. “Yes, you are right. That’s exactly what I was afraid of.”