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Sciatica and C-Span

Welcome to my blog, Ground One.

Ground Zero :  Function:  noun; Date:  1946 ~ 1: the point directly above, below, or at which a nuclear explosion occurs; 2: the center or origin of rapid, intense, or violent activity or change; 3: the very beginning .

Ground One:  Function: verb; Date: 2008 ~ 1: to create a new beginning from an ending, starting from the ground up; 2: to use one’s  life beliefs and values to break new ground; 3: to ground oneself; i.e., to become one with the earth or universal whole; 4: to journey within to find new solutions to ancient problems;  5:  to use one’s unique individual gifts to improve the whole; 6: to find common ground among a diversity of cultures, philosophies, and ideas.

                I’ve had sciatica on and off since my first pregnancy. It’s what my girlfriends and I used to joke about having eons ago when we didn’t really know what “sciatica” meant. I was supposed to be going out somewhere, but instead I found myself cradling my hot water bottle, nestled against the sofa cushions watching C-Span. I love C-Span. I love unrehearsed television, and I love that it might feature an author one day, a Congressional debate the next. On this particular day, it featured a session at the World Economic Forum.

            Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, was the moderator for a panel that consisted of the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the Defense Minister of Afghanistan, the Foreign Minister of Turkey, and the better-late-than-never French Foreign Minister, co-founder of Medicins Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders). I learned a lot from this discussion, the most significant thing being that the international community spends $30,000 USD to build a building in Afghanistan; Afghans can build a building there for $10,000. OK, maybe they have to pay a few people off or do a few favors in the meantime, but why isn’t the international community turning some of the building monies over to the Afghan citizens for them to build themselves?

            So I was left with much to ponder. I was also left embarrassed for my government by the way Richard Haass introduced himself and the way he didn’t introduce the panel members. He introduced himself as a sort of aside, as if either it didn’t matter who he was or rather, that everyone there already knew who he was. He then went straight to the questions for the panelists. Or should I say straight for the jugular.

            Surely someone who has served time overseas knows that places like India and Pakistan, with a history of British colonialism, expect not only a proper introduction but to be able to introduce their own topics. Roberts Rules of Order and all that. But that wasn’t the worst part. Mr. Haas began the entire session by asking the Pakistani PM in a rambling sort of way: “Do you agree with Americans that there is little to no hope for your country?”

            What kind of question is that?! My mouth was agape when I heard it. The Pakistani PM deflected it admirably, though, by replying that he had meant to begin with an introduction to the situation on the ground, but now he would answer Mr. Haass’ question. He spoke of improvements in his country, and how far they had come, and how many in his country wanted democracy, about his own election. He spoke of ways to give Pakistanis hope in the future, and how hope would eventually stamp out terrorism, which he felt was born of desperation.

            Why did Mr. Haass point his finger? Why were his questions so full of cynicism? Is it impossible to think that Pakistan will one day have hope? That the world will be full of hope?

            I think not. I myself hope for Pakistan, Mr. Haass. I see reason to hope. The world must hope, for in concentrating on the negative we perpetuate the negative. By putting world leaders on the spot, we alienate our country and our position. By spreading only arrogance, we breed hostility, not hope.

            I look forward to a session at a future forum in which the moderator focuses on the positive first. Then we’ll be getting somewhere.