Free Thoughts

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Where the Religion has Left Off

There is no doubt that an author can be influenced by his/her society or even a temporary location, which he or she stays there even for a few months. The effect includes social attributes, customs, beliefs and, of course, politics. He/she reads the news, watches TV and makes conversation with other members of the intellectual community, which may include journalists, political scientists or even a concern citizen. A work of fiction, at least partially, is the product of the writer’s personal experience, and there is excellent chance that it will have a political perspective. The issue starts when the writer centralizes the politics in the book. The essential duty of an author is to tell a good story, but being involved too deeply in some manners, like politics, will possibly result in the loss of focus on some important details. Green on Blue, as a product of realism school, has lost many of those facts, like religion, which specifies the characters and the rationality behind their natural process.
Green on Blue by Eliot Ackerman tells a story of a teenage orphan Afghan boy whom a collection of events pushes him to shoot an American soldier. 
Any time someone turns on the TV, there is heart-breaking clips of some innocent people who have lost their lives in conflicts or irritant events. Ackerman takes the audience inside the event, but this time, it is not just a few minutes of video in some unknown land. He leads the American Audience inside the state of pain and fright. 
The script pushes the American audience to search the words that they are not familiar with them, and looking for places that they may not have known anything about them. The book creates a great opportunity, especially for some ignorant readers, by pushing them to see, to feel the real agony, which seems did not concern the major media outlets in the United States. The writer opens a case that has been a taboo in the United States. According to most American media, Afghans are dangerous terrorists, who have caused the saddest event in the American history, 9/11. Ackerman opens the door to the audience, for the first time, to make them see the facts from the eyes of an Afghan youth. 
Although, the idea is tempting, Ackerman, unable to achieve and understand the deep roots of the Afghan people, remains on the surface. He forgets the fact that his book is supposed to tell a story about a real event, and to talk about some real people. Realism requires some details, at least, the most important ones, on the culture and customs of the country, or the society, to make it easy for the reader to understand the characters. Ackerman claims that the book is to pay tribute by a "last act of friendship" to the Afghani soldiers he trained,” (Whelan), but he does not pay the tribute, at least in an unbiased way. 
Ackerman missed the most important part of Afghan life that is religion. He has used the word, Islam, only two times in the entire book, which even in those two times he was not referring to the religion, but explaining a jihadi party; “his group operated under the Haqqani and later joined Hezb-e-Islami,” (Ackerman 4). 
In Afghanistan customs, especially in the Pashtun population of Afghanistan, are more important than family in some situations; Afghani customs directly come from the religious belief, which describes people’s relationships, their personal and social lives and the decision they make through their daily lives. This is why Pashtunwali has become a principal portion of the Pashtun life in Afghanistan. 
Eliot Ackerman
Ackerman mentions Pashtunwali 7 times in the book, but he never gets close to explaining it. He says that Afghans” fight against Taliban to uphold Pashtunwali,” (Ackerman 25), but he does not explain why. He suffices to some short reference to that, although, it does not stop him from using the word Badal more than 50 times and the word Nang 16 times. The comparison between these two words proves that despite his dedication to telling a true story about the war in Afghanistan, he is biased. He would rather focus more on revenge instead of describing the roots of it. 
Pashtunwali is, basically, a law to encourage aggression, fundamentalism, and radicalism. The law has caused many damages in Afghanistan, and following its orders has taken millions of lives in that country. It is impossible to talk about the Pashtuns and their culture without talking about Pashtunwali, and it is absurd talking about Pashtunwali and not talking about Hanbali School, which it shapes the fundamental of Pashtunwali and effects, every day of Pashtuns lives. The fundamental of religious belief, among Pashtuns, has divided them into the Salafi Movement believers and Hanbalis. Salafi movement is the fundamental belief among Wahhabis, is a popular belief among radical Islamists who believe cannot achieve “Enjoining good and forbidding wrong ” without aggression. On the other hand, Hanbali School denies education, rationalism, and thoughtfulness. That is why does not exist many modern schools in the Pashtun States, and children, mostly, go to Madrassa, which is an equivalent to a religious school. The Hanbali School relies only on the Quran, Sunnah and Hadiths, and it is fundamental of Pashtunwali.  These two false branches of Islam have been fighting against each other for many years because each of them demands the total control over Afghanistan.
Ackerman does not talk about any of these important realities. He has a couple of short snapshots to religion; “I Still had a mother and father, where a day like Ashura would remind me of visits home from school instead of a destroyed home,” (Ackerman 140). Ashura is not just a word. Ashura for Muslims is the symbol of resistance and jihad. Ashura is a courage of some Muslims to grab their weapons and go to war. The Name Hussain means to fight to the death for your religion. 
Green on Blue is a well-organized nice written book but, unfortunately, does not climb to pass the surface and achieve to deeper levels of engaging the audience. Apparently the author's hope that “the book proves a worthy acknowledgement of the world the lived in and the war they fought,” (Ackerman 243) does not satisfy. He has done an excellent job to familiarize the American readers with some Pashtun phrases but remains unsuccessful to educate and to show the audience, the real world that Pashtuns are living in. the author does explain some difficulties, which Afghans face in their own land. It does bring up the discrimination and racism, which American troops are responsible for it, but still cannot describe the reason behind the complications in Afghanistan. It opens a case for some audience to do some research about Afghans, but in the matter of storytelling and creating strong characters; by not including the religion in the story, he cannot dig deep.  

Work Cited
"ظرفيت شناسي ؛ قوميت و مذهب، پيچيدگي هاي جامعه ي افغانستان." ظرفيت شناسي ؛ قوميت و مذهب، پيچيدگي هاي جامعه ي افغانستان. Web. 15 Oct. 2015. <http://www.dmsonnat.ir/Article-813.aspx>.
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