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“Fantasy is often better than reality. It’s much more inspiring not to go to places than to go.” Karl Lagerfeld

Prussia is not a state that has an army, rather an army that has a state. In contemporary times, that description aptly applies to Pakistan.” Rajan Lead, quoting Voltaire

 “The cold-blooded brutality of these killings is a reminder of the Taliban’s past record, and a horrifying indicator of what Taliban rule may bring,” Agnès Callamard

I want to continue one more week with a discussion concerning what is happening in Afghanistan today. I remain deeply involved in this egregious affair and I am terribly disturbed by two things. One, the horrendously violent treatment of non-conforming Afghans, particularly ethnic and religious minorities, and two, the passivity of western and eastern governments to the plight of these same people.

It would be easy for me to imagine that many Afghans feel quite abandoned by mankind right now. I hear stories every day of horrific atrocities that are being committed, atrocities which frankly are so hard to imagine that one could barely call these men’s actions human, at any level. Though I personally, hold to a depravity of man theological position, even that has done little to prepare me for the evil this movement of Taliban has unleashed on their own people. Perhaps what is even more disturbing is that ISIS is preparing to take up a fight against the Taliban because they are too moderate for them. The days of trials for many are still ahead of us. Let us not think that we will escape anything bad happening in the world because we are Americans or Europeans. These things have a tendency to spread like cancer in an environment where values, morals, and genuine Christian spirituality cease to exist.


First of all, in the context of an armed conflict there are many violations of the Geneva Conventions, and constitute war crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which is already considering crimes committed in relation to the conflict in Afghanistan. What we are witnessing is a series of war crimes stacking like cordwood in front of us. The question that needs to be asked is will anybody care? Will anybody advocate for these people? Will anybody dare call these exactly what they are? War crimes.

Be advised, the next section is simply a series of true stories that have been passed to me. They are true to the best of my knowledge. This is not a movie.

Their stories. This is not a movie.

There was little food for the 30 families that fled. The next morning, five men and four women returned to the village to gather supplies. On their return, they found that their homes had been looted and that Taliban fighters were lying in wait for them. They were tortured and killed immediately.

This is not a movie.

One man, 45-year-old Wahed Qaraman, was taken from his home by Taliban fighters who broke his legs and arms, shot him in the right leg, pulled his hair out, and beat his face with a blunt object.

This is not a movie.

Another man, 63-year-old Jaffar Rahimi, was severely beaten and accused of working for the Afghan government after cash was found in his pocket. The Taliban strangled him to death with his own scarf. Three people involved in the burial of Rahimi said that his body was covered in bruises and that the muscles of his arms had been carved off.

This is not a movie.

Sayed Abdul Hakim, 40, was taken from his home, beaten with sticks and rifle butts, had his arms bound, and was shot twice in the leg and twice in the chest. His body was then dumped next to a nearby creek.

This is not a movie.

One eyewitness, who assisted with the burials, told Amnesty International: “We asked the Taliban why they did this, and they told us, ‘When it is the time of conflict, everyone dies, it doesn’t matter if you have guns or not. It is the time of war.’”

This is not a movie.

During the two-day killing spree, three other men – Ali Jan Tata (65), Zia Faqeer Shah (23), and Ghulam Rasool Reza (53) – were ambushed and executed as they left the hideouts, and attempted to pass through Mundarakht to reach their homes in the nearby hamlet of Wuli.

In Mundarakht, they were stopped at a Taliban checkpoint, where they were executed. Ali Jan Tata was shot in the chest, and Rasool was shot in the neck. According to witnesses, Zia Faqeer Shah’s chest was so riddled with bullets that he was buried in pieces. The men’s bodies were thrown into the creek alongside Sayed Abdul Hakim.

This is not a movie.

Three more men were also callously killed in their home village. Eyewitnesses told Amnesty International that Sayeed Ahmad, 75, insisted the Taliban would not harm him as he was an elderly man, and that he intended to return to feed his cattle. He was executed with two bullets to the chest and another in his side.

This is not a movie.

Zia Marefat, 28, suffered from depression and rarely left his home in Mundarakht. He refused to leave after the Taliban took control of the village but eventually did so after being urged by his mother and others to flee for his own safety. However, as he walked alone to the fields, he was captured by the Taliban, who killed him with a shot to the temple.

This is not a movie.

Karim Bakhsh Karimi, 45, who had an undiagnosed mental health condition that caused him to act erratically, did not flee with the rest of the villagers. He was also shot, execution-style, in the head.

This is not a movie.

Ahmad Shah was forced to watch as the Taliban beheaded his 5-year-old son, then killed his wife and two other children, before shooting him in the head.

This is not a movie.


Why am I beating this “This is not a movie” drum over and over again? I am sure that cognitively none of us think this is a movie. But it is also true that it is becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate between reality and fantasy.

I have begun to fear that because we receive our news through the same medium that we receive our entertainment, we may be having a difficult time perceiving the difference between what is real and what is a fantasy or fictional story. Hang with me for a minute. We get our news on our desktops, our televisions, our phones. We also receive our entertainment, in convincing pseudo-reality, on our desktops, televisions, and our phones.

Could it be that the lines between reality and pseudo-reality are getting a little bit blurry? There is a psychological term for it. Most people do not know they are even doing it. It is called “derealization”. For many of you, even this discussion is uncomfortable and you may think I am going over the edge. My concern is, that if we neglect the reality of what is happening around us, we may never get to a place outside ourselves enough to care and to do something about it. So many are living their lives completely inside their heads. Many of us are living “derealized” lives and few of us even know it.

Enough of the “psychobabble.” I have had several people ask me this week if these things were real? Were these atrocities really happening? The very question itself is encouraging. It shows they are dealing with their own derealization. Some of us prefer to live in a “derealized” world. It is simpler, happier, and much more convenient.

The only problem is, pretend understanding does not solve real-world problems. It only delays the effects and often only makes them worse in the end.

Yes, these atrocities are real. People are actually suffering immensely all over the world these days. Avoiding thinking about them, avoiding having to deal with them will not lead to a better world for anybody, not even us. The problems will still be there if we just avoid them. Pretend “derealities” do not solve real-world problems.


Let me suggest some for you, in case you too may suspect that you derealized some of your life, an exercise that I designed for myself to bring me back to reality. It helps to center me back to the real world.

Take a few minutes, close your eyes, and smell. Think about what you are smelling. Then take a minute to listen. What do you hear? Consider it for a moment. Keeping your eyes closed, touch something. What do you feel? Is it cold? hot? rough? soft?

Our senses do not live in a fantasy world. They are neither past nor future. Our senses bring us back into the present. They ground us in the reality of the moment. Ultimately, if any of us are going to make a difference in the world, we need to learn to live in the reality of the present. That is where the grit and grime of life exist. Try this little exercise when you feel life is surreal. It will re-center you into a place of purpose and meaning.

The follow-up.

Afghanistan’s Fate Will Be Shaped by Geoeconomics…


The feed-back.

For your comments or questions about any of our digests please feel free to write to me at:


Notes from current operations in rescuing Afghans from certain death.

© 2019 • More Than Meets