by Kathy Kelly and Hakim
November 16, 2011
Adelaide, Australia -At Tabor House Technical College, 21 young people sit in a semicircle looking curiously at Hakim and me. We’ve been invited to speak with them about the practice of justice. Hakim, who has lived among Afghans for the past nine years, begins by describing how an Afghan youth, Zekerullah, would greet them. “Salam,” he says to all. With his hand over his heart, Hakim makes eye contact with each student, and then nods in silent greeting. I smile, having watched Zekerullah do just this, whenever he entered a room. The students are interested.
“You can’t listen only to leaders,” Hakim tells them. “We must put our ears close to the hearts of ordinary people and listen to them.” Hakim is often poetic, but he’s also a trained physician, prone toward assembling data and seeking careful diagnosis.
Rising early this morning, he prepared for today’s presentation by collecting statistics about government responses, in various parts of the world, to massive manifestations of public opinion. As expected, the short survey showed that leaders aren’t listening well to ordinary people, that ‘national interests’ routinely overrule the people’s interests:
72% of Australians want their troops to be withdrawn from Afghanistan.
But Prime Minister Julia Gillard insists that Australian troops will remain “till the end of the decade, at least.”
63% of Americans oppose the Afghan war.
But the US is about to sign a US-Afghan Strategic Partnership Agreement that will allow joint military bases in Afghanistan beyond 2024.
80% of the Spanish population support the estimated 6.5 to 8 million Spanish Indignados protesting unemployment.
But the Spanish government has been repressing the protesters since their police cleared out Puerta del Sol Square in Madrid on 17th May 2011.
89% of Chileans support the student protests for free public education.
But Chilean police used water cannons and tear gas to break up a student march on October 6th 2011.
US National polls over October and November 2011 were mixed, with agreement/approval ratings for Occupy Wall Street varying from 59% to 22%, but, generally, approval was larger than disapproval.
Yesterday, New York police cleared out the protesters from Zuccotti Park in New York.
“Do governments hate their people?” Hakim asks, “Or do they simply treat their general public as stupid belligerents?”
He encourages students to recognize the wisdom ordinary people hold, offering as an example Afghan villagers who became his teachers. He thought he had come to assist people in the Afghan village because he had ‘knowledge’ to offer them. He instead found that they changed his life completely. They taught him about love and community.