Saturday, November 10, 2012

Drifting With Uncertain Fate

I recently met with a group of teenage Afghans and, having a captive audience, I asked them to share their thoughts about 2014 - the drawdown of combat troops and the new elections. Most were generally optimistic. But their optimism was colored with uncertainty. One young man said his female friends were buying burkas because they didn't know if they might need them soon. That sent a chill down my spine. A young woman - 17 years old - has high hopes for going to college and having a career. But she just doesn't know what will happen. I remember being uncertain about my future when I was 17. But my uncertainty came from an abundance of opportunities - I could do anything, it was just a matter of figuring out what I wanted.

These youths are old enough to remember what life was like 10 years ago, but still young enough to stubbornly cling to their dreams. They have spent the last 10 years going to school, talking on cell phones, and watching Bollywood movies. If the Taliban or the local warlord starts handing out guns and asks, "Who will fight and die for me?" the young adults I spoke to won't raise their hands. I hope this country has enough young people like the ones I met this week.

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