I had trouble sleeping last night and turned on a movie to fall asleep to and was riveted instead by Charlie Wilson’s War. I found out too late in the ending credits that I should have known better than to try falling asleep to Aaron Sorkin’s poignant and astute dialogue. Towards the end Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s character tells a proverbial tale about the law of unintended consequences – it goes like this. “There’s a little boy and on his 14th birthday he gets a horse… and everybody in the village says, “how wonderful. The boy got a horse” And the Zen master says, “we’ll see.” Two years later, the boy falls off the horse, breaks his leg, and everyone in the village says, “How terrible.” And the Zen master says, “We’ll see.” Then, a war breaks out and all the young men have to go off and fight… except the boy can’t cause his legs all messed up. and everybody in the village says, “How wonderful.” To which Tom Hank’s character replies, “Now the Zen master says, “We’ll see.”
With the recent Taliban takeover of Kabul, the 2007 film set in cold war 1980 has had a prophetic foresight – the proxy wars America funded to contain Soviet communist expansion in Afghanistan during the cold war had weapons and training going into the predecessors of present day Taliban – talk about unintended consequences. The film goes further to expose the relative indifference of American politicians to provide post conflict restorations – implying that if left without nurture in the rubble, Afghani sentiments would grow resentful towards the west. As the titular Texan congressman Wilson remarks perhaps the best way to help illiterate children who were mostly agricultural and refugees from falling into to vengeful fanaticism is to educate them, by building schools.
Such efforts have been happening over the last twenty years but maybe it has been too little too late. A tragedy in the midst of the current event is the threat to the voices of women. If educators in privileged places around the world were to raise awareness of the dire need for safe spaces for women to express themselves vocally and musically, and that this may be the most effective way to counteract tyrannical ideologies in the long term, we should strap ourselves in hopes for the late game and say with zen-like prescience, “We’ll see.”