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Navy Man’s Travel Diary

Monday, 18 Feb 2008

Location: Kabul, Afghanistan


It’s been on my mind a lot recently, how our perspective frames our outlook. Two recent events brought it to the forefront though; the first incident was when Amanda and I went to the neighboring base to have dinner with our friend Chuck. As we were leaving and suiting up in our body armor we commented that we’ll have to do this again in the states when we get back, and maybe we wont have to wear body armor as we leave Chuck’s house. It struck us though that it’s become second nature to us here to wear body armor everywhere we go, and that just seems like it’s something that shouldn’t be “normal”. The second thing was when it warmed up to about 20F a couple of weeks ago. It had been so cold the previous few weeks that we all felt like we should be wearing short sleeved shirts.

So why is this important?

Because the Afghans don’t have the same perspective we do. We come from a background where intelligence, hard work, and perseverance matter. They simply do not. In their world, trust and family matter more than ability because accomplishments matter very little. Consequently, it’s very difficult for a westerner to explain concepts like efficiency to a population that works usually less than an hour in a four or five hour day. It simply doesn’t affect them.

So as I continue to try to help them I have to constantly remember where they are in the world and what they value. Ultimately though, if they are to have western capabilities and lifestyles, which they continually claim they do want, they will be the ones that have to change their values. To do that they need to see how theirs fits, or doesn’t, with the rest of the world. So maybe the best thing I can give them is actually free, a new perspective on how things can be….

My love to all….