Post #7

Because of the chaos and lack of government regulation in much of the Middle East, a large amount of human trafficking takes place in the region. In Pakistan and Iran, most modern slaves are used as domestic servants. They cook, clean, and perform other household duties for their owners, much like pre-1865 American slaves. In Afghanistan, however, some slaves serve a much different purpose. They are used to fulfill others’ sexual desires, and are sometimes forced into marriage. Others are used for drug smuggling purposes. Regardless of what work the slaves are doing, it is often dangerous and inhumane.
Sometimes, Afghan families even choose to sell their children into slavery in hopes of escaping poverty. These are the worst cases because if your family is not fighting for your freedom, it’s likely that no one is. In other cases, families will smuggle their boys into Greece in hopes for a better life, but they instead end up being used for labor or sexual entertainment. No matter what kind of slavery a person is forced into or how long they remained enslaved, it can have lifelong traumatic effects on a person. For example, many sex slaves end up with injuries and incurable STDs such as AIDs and herpes. Others end up with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which may cause paranoia and hallucinations. Slavery is by far one of the most inhumane things a person can be forced into, and there need to be more movements to bring attention to the issue and work on a solution, as well as counseling for all victims. The following video shows just one of the traumatic events experienced by Afghan slaves.

It is estimated that slavery is a bigger problem now than it was a few hundred years ago, during the time of the transatlantic slave trade. It is estimated that close to 30 million people are enslaved today, which is approximately the population(slaves and non slaves) of the United States at the time the slaves were freed. To try to put an end to this issue, the United Nations put together a list of goals known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Two of these goals are to “Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all” and to “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”. Employment and decent work refers to paid and humane work, and does not include slavery. The phrases ‘access to justice for all’ and ‘inclusive institutions’ also imply an end to slavery. However, we can only hope that these goals are one day fulfilled. They were formed years ago, but were put on standby so humanitarians and government officials could instead tend to other issues such as the AIDs crisis and the Ebola outbreak. There is no definite reason to believe that another issue won’t soon take priority over ending slavery. Aside from other crises in Africa, there are other reasons slavery will be hard to fight. Human trafficking brings an estimated $32-$150 billion into the African economy every year, and there is no telling what economic crisis could be born from losing that money. Also, it will be hard to get support from potential donors or volunteers. People contributing to social issues like to see distinct numbers that show progress. Unfortunately, because of the lack of discrete numeric data concerning slavery, exact progress will be almost impossible to deliver.
The only way slavery can truly be ended today is if people are willing to be truly selfless. Victims of human trafficking need people willing to gather accurate data of their identities and people willing to have their owners imprisoned. Only time will tell if there are enough of these selfless people to truly make a difference.

Post #6

The world is a complex place. So complex, in fact, that most of us don’t even know exactly what our role in global society is. We don’t realize the extent of the cultural diversity between us and the people 10, 100, or 10,000 miles away from us. We like to live in our own bubbles of comfort and forget that not everyone thinks the way we do and wants the same things we do. I’m not just talking about corrupt political leaders or particularly self centered individuals, I’m talking about the humanitarians of the Western World. “But they do so much to help those in need!”, you may be thinking. Maybe they do, maybe they think they do, but the situation is more complicated than that. This video gives some examples of how not everyone who claims to have good intentions actually does, and when they do, they aren’t always enough.

How many times do you hear about individuals, aid organizations or even church groups going on mission trips to impoverished nations, and then coming back with stories about the relationships they made with the locals, and all the great things they accomplished? If you grew up in a particularly privileged or religious (or both) community, probably pretty often. But how many of those trips were really as impactful as claimed? Linda Polman would argue not very many.

To see why, let’s think through how a typical mission trip goes from the viewpoint of a local. First, a bunch of strange people come into your hometown, claiming they’re there to help you. Help would be cool. You’re starving, you have no choice but to give your kids water that will make them sick, and you don’t have adequate shelter. Maybe these people can work with you to get some water pumps set up, fix the hole in your wall that’s letting rainwater damage the inside of your home, and set up some jobs so that the people in your community can live comfortably. But that’s not they way these people see it. They want you to look up to them and see you as their savior. They think you want to be able to drive around in a shiny car and play on a computer in a memory foam bed with a Starbucks latte at your side. So what do they do? They give you that latte that will kill your stomach because you’re not used to caffeine, and then they take a picture to show all their friends what a great thing they did. Then, they interact with the people in your community for a few days. They keep treating you to first world luxuries because they feel guilty because they have things that you don’t. They fail to realize that what you want is to be able to provide a healthy life for your family. The worst part of it all is that a week later, they’re back to living their comfortable lives, talking about what a great thing they did for you, while you’re back to living exactly how you were before they came.

The idea of a ‘white savior’ coming and thinking they’re fixing the developing world’s problems is one of the issues Polman brings up. Another is the way charity organizations often run. Instead of working together to get everyone in the world what they need, people often waste money trying to get people to donate to THEIR specific charity so THEY can look good. This is what she meant by “Aid organizations are businesses dressed up as Mother Teresa.” These organizations often have incentives other than wanting to help. They give westerners jobs, compete with each other, and spend donated money on things other than the cause they were donated for, all while holding the image of helping the poor.

The media doesn’t help the cause. Journalists often report the great things that are done by charity organizations and fail to mention what is really needed, like long term help. Governments in the United Nation should work together long term to make sure everyone has the resources to live comfortably, rather than sending a few billion dollars to an impoverished nation and calling it good. But what needs to be done goes beyond the media and government. As humans, we can all make an effort to learn what our fellow human beings need, and to help them get it. We need to stop thinking it’s okay to look down on people who have less than us and work with them to find out how we can best help them. When you see a person who needs help, you help them. Not because it will make you look good, but because they are humans, they have rights, and they need help.

Post #5

Every planet in our solar system has a range of temperatures it generally reaches, and eight of them (Pluto will always be a planet to me) have climates that have remained relatively unchanged since the beginning of time. There is one planet, however, that has a climate that is beginning to grow warmer. This is the planet Earth—the one that virtually every living being calls home. It is also the planet that was placed in the exact position to have the climate needed for us to all thrive. We all have different ideas of how the Earth got here, but it is a universally accepted fact that it was placed exactly where it needs to be. This begs the question, what happens when we mess with the climate?

On the surface, we can see the problems that are arising. People are needing to be relocated due to flooding, plant and animal species are going extinct, and cultures are being lost. We often think that these losses for a few people come as the price for a more industrialized world for the rest of us, but we fail to realize that these people’s rights are being taken from them. As stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we all have the right to be welcomed and have a place to call home. We have the right to live without fear of the wellbeing of our descendants, yet so many people aren’t able to.

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Aside from countries situated right at sea level, Afghanistan is one of the countries that is considered most vulnerable to climate change. It may not be submerged in melted glacier water anytime soon, but they lack the resources necessary to react to any changes. The people have grown accustomed to the weather in the nation, and most of them simply cannot afford to cool their houses or artificially produce the temperatures needed for their agricultural activity. On top of this, water is becoming more of a scarcity in Afghanistan. The people are doing their best to conserve water and get more water to flow through the mountains, but droughts are still an issue. This threatens their rights to live comfortably without fear.

The fact that we live in a Eurocentric world does no justice for the recognition of Afghan’s human rights. How could they be expected to thrive in a world where Muslims are seen as terrorists more often than as humans and only the wealthy rise to world power? Middle Easterners are too often looked at suspiciously and as criminals by people in Europe and the Americas. They are more likely than white people to be ‘randomly selected’ for extensive body searches, and this is often humiliating and degrading to them.

While there is still much work to be done, steps are being taken towards a more equal world. Faris Noor explained that the rise of other nations is soon going to deplete the world domination of Europe and the United States. This is a very good thing, because domination often results in a feeling that you are better than everyone and lack of respect for other cultures. This has been seen over and over in our world. People have been enslaved by people who had power and dominance. There have been mass murders by people who wanted to show they have power. The sooner we can realize that we are all humans and all deserve our rights, the sooner we will be able to come together as a community and all do our part to prevent the climate from changing too much and to make sure everyone is given the resources they need to survive comfortably.

Post #3

You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘Everything in moderation’ regarding the simple pleasures in life such as coffee. Maybe you enjoy a cup or two every day as a quick energy booster, but what happens when you drink an entire pot in one sitting? Chances are, your heart rate will reach a dangerous level and you’ll have some trouble keeping still. Likewise, nationalism is a good thing in moderation, but too much can be dangerous.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines nationalism as “loyalty and devotion to a nation.” It’s good to be loyal and devoted to your nation. But issues often arise when you take this idea a step further, and begin to disregard everyone who is not a part of your nation. The belief that your own nation is the only one that matters often leads to xenophobia and selfish foreign policies. According to Zakaria, too much love for a single nation could lead to the deterioration of globalization. Globalization began because people believed that other nations had ideas and goods that could be beneficial to everyone. Ethnic food and music can be found all over the world, and many people learn languages of different cultures to be able to communicate with more people. When people become too ethnocentric, they begin to cut themselves off from the rest of the world. Evidence of this is being seen in America today – President Donald Trump is advocating to end trade with foreign nations and is attempting to keep foreigners out.

Fortunately, excessive nationalism is not an issue in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, even a healthy amount of nationalism is virtually nonexistent in the nation. Different tribes and ethnic minority groups may have have pride in their subcultures, but it’s hard to take immense pride in a nation full of corruption, poverty, and political instability. In fact, the majority of the Middle East is lacking in pride of their nations. Terrorist organizations such as ISIS, Taliban, and Al Qaeda are headquartered in the Middle East, causing fear, conflict, and multitudes of refugees. No one would flee from a nation they’re proud to be a part of, yet millions of Syrian, Iraqi, and Palestinian refugees are scattered throughout other nations. Another reason many Middle Easterners do not take pride in their nation is because they tend to think of land in a Western manner as opposed to having a personal relationship with it like some tribal groups do. Check out this PDF to learn more about the environmentally spiritual mindset most Middle Easterners lack.

Inequality can be seen all over in the Middle East. Inequality of genders, inequality of the upper vs lower class, and inequality between religions are all prominent. This inequality could be a large part of why the region is struggling politically and socially. Studies have proven again and again that inequality creates social problems within the less privileged groups. This is because the more privileged people have better access to education, health care, and opportunities such as music lessons that give them an overwhelming advantage over everyone else. Wealthier individuals also have more opportunities to explore other parts of the world and embrace other cultures. Zakaria and Steger both mentioned that this form of globalization can be beneficial to an individual and set them apart from their peers.

In the Muslim community, which makes up much of the Middle East(And almost all of Afghanistan) men are dominant over women. This inequality can make women feel oppressed and worthless. The Qaran states “Marry women of your choice, Two or three or four” and “and the men are a degree above them [women]“. This religious inequality is so widely accepted in Islam that the majority of Muslims don’t even think of themselves as a group of inequality. They believe that this plain discrimination is an acknowledgement of differences, not supremacy. This may be true to an extend, but historically ‘separate but equal’ really just means ‘separate.’ Pre 1960s America is a prime example of this.

Here is a video of a Muslim man explaining his perception of why people of different genders are treated differently.

He truly believes that his argument is solid, but it is a bit flawed. Dr. Naik explains that Allah states that men are more powerful, and he knows best, so giving men more power is really not making them unequal to women. The problem with this claim is that it is based solely on the teachings of Allah, and therefore will not be satisfactory to anyone who is not Muslim.

Post #2

Afghanistan is a multicultural nation. As a result, about thirty languages are spoken and two of them are considered official languages. The first official language is called Dari(also known as Afghan Persian) and is spoken by approximately half of Afghans. It is used for all government and business related purposes, is considered the lingua franca of the country, and is typically taught in schools. Until the mid 20th century, Dari was the only official language of Afghanistan.
In the 20th century, Pashto became the second official language of Afghanistan. The Pashtuns were a group who mainly resided in Afghanistan. Many moved to Pakistan after World War II, but they still are the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan. In 1933, Mohammed Zahir Shah became king of Afghanistan. He decided that because about a third of Afghans speak Pashto, it should also be considered an official language. A larger percentage of Pashto speakers are literate than Dari speakers, so Pashto is often used to record stories and other literature.
This photo shows script in the Dari alphabet, which similar to the Pashto alphabet. As you can see, Afghans do not use an alphabet similar to the English one.

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Most Afghans who do not speak one of the official languages speak a Turkish language. Because there are so many languages spoken in the nation, many people are bilingual. It is helpful for all Afghans to know at least one of the official languages, but nomadic groups and some ethnic groups have been able to form their own communities with their own languages.
Afghanistan is involved in global organizations, and is often a recipient of aid from them. One example is the United Nations. Afghanistan became a member of the UN in 1946, just a year after the organization was formed. The United Nations has a program known as United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, which was created in 2002 to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan. Whether or not this aid is being put to good use or not is up for debate. The following video gives an idea of how foreign money may be used in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is also a member of the International Monetary Fund as of 1955. The IMF has given millions of dollars to support Afghanistan, and is helping returning refugees. Many Afghan refugees were forced out of Pakistan last year, and do not have adequate resources to live a healthy life in Afghanistan. The IMF is lending Afghanistan $45 million with very low interest to aid refugees. The World Trade Organization allowed Afghanistan to join in 2016. Many nations were reluctant to allow this because they believe that Afghanistan cannot offer much, but there has not been adequate time to prove or disprove this.
The Gini coefficient of Afghanistan is 27.8 (on a scale of 0-100), which implies there is not too much inequality. Aside from the wealth possessed by corrupt government officials, there is not much of a gap between the richest and poorest Afghans. Almost no Afghan commoners have the resources to live a comfortable life, but according to the Italian statistician Corrado Gini, this is not necessarily bad news. His theory is that it is not the counties with the least wealth that are prone to social problems, but countries with the most unequally distributed resources. This implies that if a few Afghans were to become very wealthy, rates of teen pregnancy, drug abuse, and violence would increase among the poor.
Much work needs to be done in Afghanistan before it can be a truly independent nation. The UN, WTO, and IMF may have to change their approach on providing aid and government corruption needs to end. But if Afghanistan has one thing working in its favor, it is the lack of extreme wealth inequality among commoners.

To learn more about current affairs and politics, check out this Afghan news paper.

http://afghanistantimes.af