Their World is Exploding

Steve Olweean

September 24, 2001
(At the onset of the Afghan war)

This morning I was struck by the photograph of a little girl and a little boy, sitting alone at the Pakistani border after walking for 3 days, waiting for their widowed mother to join them in fleeing Afghanistan. They have no means to defend themselves, to care for themselves, to even comprehend the massive whirling movements that have absorbed them. They sit dutifully waiting, their eyes in awe of all that spirals about them; of all the giants of the world that are in charge, who are powerful enough to create their terror but not enough to protect them from it.

If we were to suddenly come upon them along side a road in our community we would no doubt be compelled to stop and care for them, to watch over them and keep them from harm. But there is no safe place. This little girl, this little boy, are facing the explosion of their world.

It is all horrible. Can we at least all agree on this? That it is all unbearably and deplorably horrible, and that one horrific death of an innocent is not more nor less than another? That one righteous reaction is no more justified than another when it includes the annihilation and desecration of innocent human life within it’s design, no matter how secondary a by-product?

It’s really simple. We just agree that human life is equal in value and the loss of it is of equal tragedy; that none of it can fit into any definition called “collateral damage,” or “necessary consequences,” or “unavoidable price.” And none of it can be called justice.

Finally, unequivocally, when it is all stripped down to the uncomplicated, uncircumstanced, unconditional, and unqualified bare bones, can we at least agree on this?

And once we can, can we look at our world and each other from those eyes, and see?

Steve Olweean
September 24, 2001

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