Poverty and Paroxysm: an International Day of Peace Post

“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”- RFK

The first news reports on BBC, New York Times, and AP said that the bomb went off at 8:10 in the morning. I swear though, that I heard it at 8:04. It’s not every day that a young American not serving in the armed forces hears an explosion as they gets ready for work, but for Kiva Fellows, this isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Whether we are in Tajikistan or Sierra Leon, Uganda or Azerbaijan , Rwanda or Palestine we deal with violence in the form of active civil wars, former civil wars, and random acts of violence. These can be scary and slightly nerve racking to be sure, but the countries themselves deal with a lot more.

While I’ve been in Tajikistan, the country has had to deal with bomb blasts in the two largest cities, military ambushes, a major prison break, a former civil war, and violence just over the borders in Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan. The bomb I had heard, the first suicide car bomb in Central Asia (Afghanistan and Pakistan are not considered part of Central Asia unless you talk to UNESCO), was against a police station. Some believe it is in connection with the murder of the former head of a large market in a different town, and recently an unheard of group took responsibility for the blast.

This is as close to the explosion site as I wanted to get. You can see the smoke coming from the fire that the bomb set.

Tajikistan is sadly used to this violence. It was devastated following its Independence in 1991, with a low estimate of 350,000 people dying in the killing from 1992-1997 in the Civil War that has been said was ideological, but really seems more regional.

Since then there has been bombings and at times a fear from outside powers that the country may slide back into Civil War. Within the country many people I have talked to have stated repeatedly that they are sick of violence, and some have talked about themselves being part of a “lost generation” having come into adulthood during the civil war. But Tajikistan is not the only country on the Kiva website with a story like this, and when you begin to think about it, it becomes heart breaking.

Whether reading the 1999 US government Report “Who Becomes a Terrorist and Why“, a Paul Collier book, or for those more interested in less technical reading almost anything by Thomas Friedman or Nicholas Kristof, you will find smart people from all over the world have shown that poorer countries are more prone to violence, domestic, sexual, and larger civil war type violence. But how do you end the violence cycle if you aren’t a diplomat and you do not wish to walk into dangerous or even potentially dangerous countries?

Today the 21st of September is the 21st annual International Day of Peace. If poverty can be linked to violence, then its important to note that economic well-being has also been linked, by many of the same people, to peace.
It’s a good discussion to have if Peace begets Prosperity or if Prosperity begets Peace, but one thing is certain when you have one you get the other which in turn gives you the other and so on and so forth.

I have a copy of parts Robert Kennedy’s speech from South Africa behind me at my job here, the one quoted above, and so today I would like to ask you to send out a tiny ripple. On this, the International Day of Peace, where the UN asks all combatants to have a day of cease-fire and I would like to ask all of you to participate in an easy way and donate $25 to any of the countries on the Kiva website, – and in doing so help create a more peaceful and prosperous world.

You can also join the Kiva Loan group Citizens United to Rebuild Peace, iPeace, and many others.

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