Don’t Call It a Waste

Good morning from Westminster, MD!

The situation in Afghanistan is incredibly heartbreaking. I feel a sense of heaviness in my heart when I think about it and all of the people impacted by it. When you listen to the news or scan headlines, it is easy to come away feeling hopeless about it. In fact, there have been quite a few people who have referred to it as a “waste”. However, is it truly hopeless and has nothing really come from the sacrifices made over the past twenty years? I think it might be time for a closer, more careful look.

Before I write another word, let me first say I do not truly understand the situation in Afghanistan. I have not been there, I have no inside knowledge of the complexity of it, I do not have the understanding to dissect the military strategies employed, and I have not given my sweat, tears, and blood on behalf of the people of Afghanistan. As someone who lived in Nicaragua for three years, I understand that there is more than meets the eye. However, even as an untrained, unqualified observer, I can identify something incredible that has sprung out of the sacrifices made by both the people of Afghanistan and those like the Members of the U.S. Military who have served alongside them–hope.

What hope, you say? You can see it in the faces of the women who have been interviewed as they express their concern about losing the rights they have gained over the past twenty years. Yes, there are legitimate reasons to be concerned, but their concern is actually a byproduct of the hope they have gained. Their freedoms may be able to be taken away, which would be tragic, but the internal hope they have built up cannot so easily be stolen.

Increased literacy rates, improved educational opportunities, the chance to participate in the political process, and many more gains are evidence of the changes that have taken place in Afghanistan over the past twenty years. These all add up to a greater sense of real hope. While it is a fair argument that many of these positive steps could be erased or minimized, the hope gained by the people of Afghanistan because of them is not so easily eliminated.

This is why I believe calling the sacrifice made by so many a “waste” is incredibly short-sighted and completely false. The sacrifices of so many created opportunities and hope for so many more. While this may not have been “the ending” we would have chosen for the war in Afghanistan, the fruits produced by the sacrifices of so many live on. This gives me hope that we have not seen the end of the story in Afghanistan. It is a much different country than it was twenty years ago.

Thank you to all who have served and sacrificed for the people of Afghanistan. What you have done matters and still makes a difference today. I believe the future of Afghanistan will be different and more hope-filled because of your efforts. I believe the hope that lives on in the hearts of the Afghani people will aid them in rising up and writing a new story for their country in time. You have been a part of overcoming hopelessness, and there is nothing wasteful about that.

James Belt

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