Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Pakistani gift: Freedom from FEAR

I didn’t get to travel as much in country as I wanted (that will be saved and accomplished on future trips). But I was in Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Wah Cantonment, Abbottabad, Manshera, Muree, Jhelum, Mangla Dam and Rhotas Fort.

I was passing the Ordnance Factory in Wah about 12 – 14 hours before the bomb that killed 70 people. I spent the Friday, after the Thursday blast, in deep reflection. A change of plan either by the bombers or by us could have put us in immediate proximity of one another.

I tried to find something I could relate my feelings to, beyond mourning for the dead. I found it remembering that many years ago a hug branch fell off a tree landing on a car behind us as I was taken my husband to the commuter rail one morning. There had been a drought in Massachusetts leaving many trees very weak. The branch gave way after we had passed underneath it.

Things happen like that.

I had a choice, let fear change my vacation plans or continue to live understanding, buy not cowed by the risks and fear. I chose to continue on, and in that choice felt a freedom and empowerment that I haven’t felt for years here in the states.

I was not scared.

Oh the Pakistani government helps in this regard. Hours and days after the blast, while other bombs were going off, while others were being maimed and dying, the government did not preach fear.

They could have, while they haven’t had one event broadcast over the airwaves and totaling 3,000 dead, they have had many more attacks. In many more places throughout the country, and many dead.

Sure there are unmistakable signs every where that this place is dangerous. Suicide bombers have hit hotels and resturants frequented by journalists and political figures. So many places have guards at the enterances. McDonalds in Rawapindi is behind a fence.

But there still was no message of fear coming from the government or the people living in the country. They were not force fed this unhealthy diet. They still go about their daily lives, working, shopping (and my gawd can these people shop - it ought to be an Olympic event), entertaining and enjoying life - a life that for many is very hard.

The atmosphere is different. What's lacking in the air is the government endorsed carcinogen, fear.

Yesterday Keith Olbermann reported on yet another Republican group using 9-11 and fear to stay in power. Spoon feeding the American public by words and images, fear. (video below)

I didn’t realize how sick this diet had made me until I lived without it for a few weeks. It's a pity that I had to go to another coutry to get the Rx for it but after 7 years of this snake oil, it's not surprising.

Before I returned to the states I was already aware of the cleansing that had taken place. I knew that fear had lost it’s hold on me, even as I am a progressive and know that the message is designed to keep Republicans in power, I didn’t realize how pervasive it was in my thinking and in my being. But what do you expect after 7 years of an unhealthy diet?

So when yesterday my mother asked me if I was ever afraid in Pakistan, I answered honestly, “No.”I truly wasn't, and it felt wonderful! And for that Pakistan, I thank you!


The market pictured is a place called "China Market" which is where you can get a lot of stuff from China

crossposted at Dailykos

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