AN AMERICAN IN PAKISTAN: The blue planet
I used to be a letter writer. I liked writing long newsy letters to my friends. But last year during the anthrax scare I started sending more e-mails. My friends werenít opening envelopes from me, because they were afraid of anthrax powder
I bought a map of the world at Ferozsonís, and put it up on my wall. I felt that it was important, at this time in history, to see the world all at once. Canada and Russia are pink, which is a problem, because they present the largest land masses, and it gives the world an innocent look. The United States of America is green, of course. Pakistan is tan, and has the words ďDisputed TerritoryĒ stamped along the northern part of it. I hope a Pakistani was the one to use that stamp. There are other disputed territories in the world, but none of them are marked on this particular map.
When people come into my room they comment on the map. I really have nothing to say about it. I am a citizen of the world.
My friends in the US donít like to send me e-mails anymore. Some mornings, my Inbox is empty. They have expressed guarded concern about their un-elected president. Congress is in recess. The Department of Homeland Security is in full swing. My friends are given daily reports about whether or not to use duct tape. Iím not sure if they are e-mailing each other. Maybe they just arenít going on-line the way they used to.
One of my girlfriends keeps asking me if there is a virus in the computer Iím writing from. She is afraid of computer viruses. She doesnít go to the New York Times web site anymore, because it might have viruses. I sent her a jpg picture and she said she couldnít open it. Then she said that she couldnít even find the attachment.
I used to be a letter writer. I liked writing long newsy letters to my friends. But last year during the anthrax scare I started sending more e-mails. My friends werenít opening envelopes from me, because they were afraid of anthrax powder.
People in the world need to communicate with each other. This is a big world, and every person in it has a different point of view. Everyone has to talk to everyone else every day, so we can discover who we are as human beings.
The different colours on the map mean nothing. The only true map of the world is the one seen from outer space, the blue planet with landmasses of various shapes, and clouds moving over it. This is what it means to be human. We see pictures of this planet, and recognise it as our own.
My mother told me not to give up my US citizenship as I may need it someday. I donít know where she got the idea that I would want to give up my citizenship. The blue passport is the only one that can go anywhere it wants to in the world. It is the most valuable piece of property that can be owned on this blue planet. I am wondering if my mother is speaking metaphorically. If I join an anti-war demonstration in Japan or Turkey, is there the danger that my citizenship will be taken from me.
As an American in Pakistan, I have one major problem. Pakistanis are always telling me that I have to wait. They say it with gentle smiles on their faces. I will get what I want but I have to wait. Americans have a terrible time with this concept, either they get what they want now or they donít get it at all.
Fear is the one thing that will destroy this world of ours. Fear causes each of us to act sooner than we need to. Without fear we can think things through, make mistakes, learn from our mistakes. Without fear, we can laugh at ourselves. When we laugh at our own foolishness, other people smile with us. A world of patient fools has a power that we all understand.
America is the leader of the world. It is in charge of human rights around the world. It is in charge of the ecology of the globe so that a good life can be lived by future generations. It is in charge of the intellectual advances of the human race. Its goal is freedom for all, the freedom of each individual to live the way he chooses inside the universal moral standards of humankind.
My American friends are afraid that they have lost the right to this leadership. But the right is still there, for those who want to take the responsibility. The world is on its way to disaster until the fearless say that it is time to look at the map of the blue planet. There are children playing in the sand on the shores of the oceans.
Cathy Mayo is an American journalist based in Pakistan