Two Decades In, What Do We Say As It Falls Apart?
Darlings, I’m struggling this morning, sticking my head in the sand so I do not happen upon that video of desperate Afghans clinging to the outside of a military plane evacuating Kabul.
And yes, I know avoiding reading about the catastrophe in Afghanistan doesn’t make it go away. But as an elder millennial, the cusp of my adulthood involved sitting in my digital arts class and watching the two towers fall on live TV. It involved getting a student visa and immigrating to the US after the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. And it involved going to my fifth college reunion in 2011 and hearing awful stories from classmates deployed after graduation. The war in Afghanistan has been a constant element, something most of us didn’t think about every day, but that cost countless lives, and jaw-dropping amounts of capital (according to Forbes, the conflict cost the US “$300 million a day”.) And nearly twenty years after the events that cascaded this forever war, I am horrified alongside all of you at just how quickly it all proved to be for naught.
But I mostly avoid the news because I know for whom these awful events will be most devastating: the women of Afghanistan. Before 9/11, when I was halfway through my high school years, I wrote an article for the school paper entitled ‘Crisis In Afghanistan’ where I detailed the barbaric treatment of women under the Taliban state. As a young person in Canada, with my health and liberty and freedom to do whatever I wanted, it was all-consuming to read about women confined to homes, unable to go to school, forced into marriages, at risk of corporal punishment for the activities that I wouldn’t give a second thought to. My favorite book at the time (still is, tbqh) was Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaids Tale, the dystopic fable warning of a fictional patriarchal totalitarian state that she partially based on her time in Afghanistan. So when the War In Afghanistan began, at least, I thought, we were helping liberate those women. Now, as Lynsey Addario writes in The Atlantic, ‘The Taliban’s Return Is Catastrophic For Women.’
And it seems like everyone on the internet has a political opinion about it, blaming the other party for what is a two-decade bipartisan collective clusterf*ck. Everyone’s to blame, including each of us who went about our lives for two decades while a war many of us initially supported was fought - and eventually lost.
So yea, that’s why I couldn’t write yesterday, I had nothing to say - and frankly, I still don’t. So my self care request today is to take care of yourself today by donating to one of the advocacy groups fighting for the women in the region.
And go hug someone you love, whether it in-person or via a quick “hey, thinking of you” text.