Listening to Jim and Ann tell their stories has my cup running over. I’m blown away by how small my perspective, how little I know, and how soft I am. One particularly searing story for me has been, in a word, Namoos.
Namoos, in Pashto,means – my woman, my gun, my home, my honor. It means, in essence, my everything. This word is sacred in their culture and conveys intimacy and care at the highest level. One particularly awful day in their 22 month stay in Kandor valley, Jim and a team of fighters had to answer the Taliban shelling with an emphatic response. He and a handful of men were going to drive up the mountain and return fire directly where the Taliban lived. This was somewhere between strategic and stupid to me, I’m not a warrior, more of a woosey. My thought would have been to hunker down. Not good.
Jim drove into the teeth of terror, as he had programmed his mind to do. As he left the compound that day, he turned to one of his Afghan leaders, Sadiq, and reminded him who Ann was to him. His words to Sadiq were meant to be followed if he didn’t come back. “She is my Namoos,” Talk about some ccd magic. She is my everything. Sadiq grabbed Jim by the arm and pulled him in close to respond. “NO,” Sadiq began emphatically, “She is my Namoos.”
Sadiq and Jim had just crossed some kinda cultural divide. Sadiq, a Muslim, Pashtun, Tribal Leader, was telling Jim, a Christian, Green Beret, American that he would lay down his life protecting his friends wife. You see, Jim & Ann were not ONE, distinct and disconnected from their villagers. Jim & Ann were ONE, distinct and deeply connected. Community. Real. Hard. Work.
Build community, leader. Build community. Not just with those like you or even those who like you. Build community where you are with those you’re with. Good…