Sowing seeds of civility

Story of benevolent U.S. military in Afghanistan is seldom told

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When your country is ravaged by years of unending war and hate and oppression, and your father is sick or injured or out of work or worse, you do what you can to feed your family.

Even if you’re all of 10 years old.

There are an estimated 40,000 children working the streets of Kabul – many of whom split time between school and full workdays spent selling trinkets, shining shoes and more to feed their families.

Stars and Stripes newspaper recently profiled a few of them – the most enterprising of which target a walled compound frequented by Westerners, particularly coalition troops. They’re pushovers for the kids, often paying much more for bracelets and such than they’re worth. The troops even give the kids food and water at times to help them through their rugged workdays.

In contrast, the newspaper reports, Afghan troops find ways to extort the kids – and to spread false and crippling rumors about the girls if they refuse to share their profits. One girl was forced to quit her sales after such a rumor began.

“For the Afghan people, the American people are good,” one girl told Stars and Stripes. “Not like Afghan people.”

Elsewhere, writes Stars and Stripes, Army medics such as Spc. Joe Kunsch spend much of their time tending to Afghan civilians and their injuries, especially children with cuts and scrapes and infections and more.

“Like many medics who came to Afghanistan to treat wounded Americans,” writes Stars and Stripes’ Matt Millham, “Kunsch often finds himself filling in as town doctor for people either too poor or too wary of Afghan physicians to seek local help.”

There’s not much they can do beyond basic first aid. They can’t even leave the townspeople with much in the way of medication, for fear of adverse reactions – and they can’t very well make follow-up visits.

You hear a lot in the media about American forces gone bad. But they are the vast exception. The rule is quiet, largely unheralded acts of love and humanitarianism that approach heroism. In many cases, as the experience of the young street vendors shows, the coalition troops treat Afghans better than Afgans do.

It may be one of the best things to come out of a horrid war: seeds of a new civility.

We pray those seeds grow with time.

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Riverman1 06/20/12 - 05:11 am
These type kids are all over

These type kids are all over the world and know the generosity of American military people. They are fantastic business kids who dodge the local authorities running them off and learn English out of necessity. I have a feeling many end up successful and come to America to use their English skills. I have bought more unnecessary trinkets from these kids than I can remember in all parts of the world. Some are remarkably adept at selling their items. I remember outside one gate, a kid had an old U.S. Army mermite cooler that he kept cold beer and sodas in. We used to stop everytime we drove out and get a beer for the ride. Of course you had to pay him double and tell him to keep the change. Heh.

patriotgirl 06/20/12 - 06:46 am
Did I miss something?

From the other comment apparently I missed the point of the piece. I thought it was about the quiet generosity of our military trying to improve the lives of the people in Afghanistan however they can. My mistake.

mikesaul 06/20/12 - 07:27 am
No, you didn't miss it...

At least not entirely. Both points are there to be made. The generosity of US servicemen and women is well documented, especially in such regions of conflict, even during the heights of WWI and WWII, through the Codl War, as well as in Viet Nam (although the bad seeds there vastly overshadowed much of the good). Those who see the struggles first hand, our soldiers, sailors and airmen, know full well how much good can come from just a simple kindness and encouragement!

On the other side, many of those children likely do find themselves some level of success later on, personally, socially, and possibly even financially, or a combo of these. They tend to be the braver of their peers, and that bravery, the willingness to do what needs to be done without regard to the potential risks around them, is what often separates the successes from the lost in any conflict.

A heartfelt salute to our military, and a great big thank you to the medical teams, especially!

Jon Lester
Jon Lester 06/20/12 - 10:07 am
The quality of our people

does not justify a dead-end mission that isn't serving the cause of "freedom" for anyone. And how much do you think a family in Waziristan cares about any of that when their wedding party is attacked by a drone?

avidreader 06/20/12 - 10:46 am
The Kite Runner

an enlightening novel by Kahled Hosseini. Take a look!

Jane18 06/20/12 - 02:00 pm
The Bravest, Kindest, and Most Generous

GOD Bless the American Military!

harley_52 06/20/12 - 05:50 pm
You're Right, Jane 18....

...and it's been proven over and over, and over again. In spite of the way the ultra-left and the mainstream media chooses to portray our military, wherever they go (especially in wartime) they are kind and generous to the local civilians and do more to improve our reputation abroad than all the politicians and all the foreign aid could ever hope to do.

Riverman1 06/20/12 - 07:56 pm
Avidreader, I looked it up

Avidreader, I looked it up and read the synopsis. I'll have to order it.

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