April 2, 2002
I've been following DialogNow as an avid lurker since it launched. It's one of those sites that defines the web for me. Personal, global, and important. DialogNow's tagline describes the site as an "open forum for civil & thoughtful dialog about India & Pakistan" and it has become, thankfully, exactly that.
I'd been waiting a while to post about it, until I could articulate what it means to me to see messages of hope and bipartisanship. What it means to me to see these tools and technologies be used for the most important purpose to which they could be assigned.
And then I finally saw the kind of thread I was waiting for last week. It asked simply, Can Kashmir Problem Be Solved. And conversation there talked about ideas and solutions, including the one I've long (quietly) favored: Reunification.
I spoke briefly to RCB and Rusty a few weeks ago about my idea that someday the Indian subcontinent could be reunited. A lot of people tend to hear those words and think that I am being, even by my usual addled standards, a complete idealistic pollyanna.
But they're good people, and good listeners, and I rattled off my usual justifications, which are more explanations of how I feel such a suggestion could be considered rational. First among my beliefs is that any two countries which were split from each other during my father's lifetime could be restored within my son's. We've seen even less likely reconciliations here in the United States after our civil war.
I also feel like the division of 50 years, or one hundred years, or however long it lasts, pales in comparison to the thousands of years of shared history. The Queen Mother's passing this weekend made me think again about the fact that the United Kingdom had a major role in the division of land into the countries that became Israel and Pakistan. I refuse to believe British interference and the opportunism of some short-sighted, greedy, spiteful natives of each of these countries and their neighbors will doom all of their residents to endless cycles of violence.
It should only take a strong leader to remind Indians, Pakistanis, and Kashmiris of their thousands of years of shared history. It would take a person with a strong understanding of the positive aspects of a traditional Asian culture's concept of shame. Because that's how I feel about the people who created, and persist in perpetuating, the tension between India and Pakistan. They make me ashamed.
I've always been fiercely proud of my heritage, of my history, of my family. But the more I see blood on our hands, and that there are people who are calling for even more blood to be spilled, the more I yearn for there to be leaders in these countries with the courage and the decency to realize they have so very much to be ashamed of, for nurturing the falsehood that all of the people of the subcontinent are anything other than one bickering, squabbling, brilliant, beautiful, obnoxious, creative, and intelligent people.
It's something that's been on my mind for a long time, and I thought you should know. Though I'm not sure it'll come soon enough to save as many lives as I hope, I take some solace in the notion that a reunited subcontinent is a historical inevitability. And it's an important idea: Pass it on.