Sports, sex and the the hero's journey narrative all play a role in America's perception of our relationship to Afghanistan. President Obama can pander to our baser instincts, tapping the nation's archetypal sports and sexual images and energy to sell what is becoming his war, as he's been doing, or seek a higher road that takes America home to a higher level as a better nation.
The national sport of Afghanistan, Buzkashi, involves horsemen knocking around a headless goat and successfully carrying it across a goal line. Unlike American sports, which last hours, Buzkashi can last days.
Buzkashi; flickr image by zz77
Here in the US, where football, baseball, basketball and ice hockey are the national obsessions, the idea of crossing the goal line, finish line or home plate, dunking or scoring is a major metaphor.
Now, that metaphor is being projected upon Afghanistan.
I should add that my mind is not befuddled, like most American heterosexual males, by sports mania. On the contrary, I have sports attention deficit, an abnormality that led to what came close to child neglect for my two sons, They seem to have survived my "disorder" and are, themselves, quite addicted to baseball, football, cage matches wrestling and the like.
That said, I feel I can see a pattern that most males and maybe even females who live with such normalized madness would not.
The American obsession with crossing the goal or finish line is deeply ingrained.
There's also the Judeo Christian work ethic of doing the job right, finishing the job.
To make matters worse, in terms of feeding into the subconscious of the male psyche, there's even a Freudian aspect to completion-- consumation, penetration, finishing the orgasm...
It's a noble goal for sports and work. It's a biological drive for sexual completion.
But the same metaphor applied to Afghanistan is a big, BIG mistake.
The metaphor is simple in isolation, but there are all kinds of examples where it is just plain bad.
Cheating is not the way to finish. Doing a bad job is not the way to finish.
Playing when it hurts your family or community or costs you your job or health is bad, finish or not. It's selfish, perhaps obsessive.
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