Saturday, June 5, 2010

Encouraging developments in Afghanistan

The jirga in Afghanistan fills me with cautious and admittedly naive hope. I know nothing about President Karzai; maybe he's a terrible man, maybe even a terrorist. But he pulled together the jirga, which included 300 women, which is the most amazing thing I've ever heard about any public event in any Muslim country. My heart soared when I read this, at the very end of the New York Times article:

More than 300 women took part in the jirga, and according to many delegates, they spoke out strongly in support of peace, while insisting that women’s rights achieved over the last eight years be respected. Under Afghan tribal tradition, when women appeal for peace, men are honor-bound to listen.

Now that's news to me, and music to my ears. Especially that last sentence.

I have long agreed with Christopher Hitchens on the importance of empowering women and getting them involved in the public discourse. This idea always makes me think about the bonobo chimpanzees, whose societies are "dominated", if that can be the word to use, by the females. It's an incredibly peaceful society. Compare the bonobos to the common chimps, whose societies are dominated by the males, and are frequently marred by violence.

I am sick of hearing claims about how human nature is irredeemably violent, selfish, bellicose. I don't believe that for a second. I am convinced that the harmony in bonobo society is a result of more than just their genes. I am convinced that the bonobos could become violent, or the common chimps could become peaceful, just by a change in the status of females. I am convinced that we can be like the bonobos if we just continue to get more women involved. Within a few generations a lot of hatred could be eliminated.

And the fact that this jirga took place in Afghanistan of all places. I tend to think of Afghanistan as stuck in the Iron Age or worse. When a peace talk involving 300 women can happen in that country, and not be shut down by two missiles and two apparent suicide bombers, I'm cautiously hopeful.

No comments:

Post a Comment