"Stop fighting," suggests Farzana, a brave 22 year old Afghan stage actress.
Significantly, her statement is in sharp contrast to what seems to be the democratic world's unquestioned modus operandi of today, exemplified by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's pet-phrase for Afghanistan, "Fight, talk and build.'
What Farzana and the Afghan Peace Volunteers are sensibly suggesting is a ceasefire.
A ceasefire, like the ceasefire called for in Kofi Annan's Six Point Peace Plan for Syria which Farzana and the Afghan Peace Volunteers also supported, is a first step towards ending the equally sectarian war and incendiary global politicking in Afghanistan.
It is crucially needed to stop the color-code chaos of "green-on-blue' attacks in which 45 coalition security forces, mainly Americans, have been killed by "allies', Afghan security forces or insurgents posing as soldiers or police .
It is what is needed to end the four Afghan decades of using mutual killing as a method of conflict resolution. The U.N. is uniquely well-positioned to do this, empowered by their original Charter to "remove the scourge of war from future generations,'
Imagining a better world
Farzana suggests to Hillary Clinton and to us that we take the "fighting' out of our desire to "talk and build.' "To fight is to resort to convenient and rather primal instincts. To fight is to lose our human imagination," states Farzana.
And imagination is what Farzana employs in the artistic world she thrives in, to communicate to the world that Afghans are human beings who prefer to laugh and cry than to live with wars.
Recently, Farzana was part of a group of Afghan stage actors and actresses who toured India, London and Germany to perform Shakespeare's "Comedy of Errors' in Dari, one of two official Afghan languages.
Farzana, in Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors
"When I express the whole range of emotions on stage, I enter awareness, and a thrilling consciousness of human reality. Acting to me is my life and existence; I can never give up this sweet, sweet world. This world is similar to my everyday life; life in Afghanistan today is like a constant limp on a hurting leg. There's definite pain, but this other world I express on stage is sweet. This better world is possible."
Farzana's pain was evident recently when criticisms from some conservative and religious Afghans were leveled at her costumes and her portrayals in the Shakespearean play. But Farzana has a quiet courage to transform the status quo, to introduce creativity into conventional norms.
As an Afghan woman, she also protests the conventional understanding of women's rights in Afghanistan. You can watch Farzana, who is an Afghan Peace Volunteer, saying in this video clip, " It is just rhetoric that men and women have equal rights. Actually, there are no women's rights . People speak against women. They say it's a sin to hear a woman's voice or for a woman to go on the road, or to hear her steps. Women are considered "faulty.' Their heads are "beaten.' It's a sin to see the hair on their heads. They're seen as sinful. What is left for a woman that she should still participate in building society?"
Farzana speaks clearly against the U.S./NATO military strategy, "Why do the women of the world believe that guns and bombs which kill can promote women's rights in Afghanistan?"
The fear that the gains in women's rights in Afghanistan over the past 11 years will be "reversed' when U.S./NATO troops withdraw is not based on facts.
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