It has been harder to write about Kashmir than I thought. With COVID-19 and the US elections coming up, I more often am wondering about how my country is doing and memories of Kashmir seem long distant.
The other day at work someone asked me if I missed Kashmir. I said that there are certain things and of course some good friends that I do miss. But Kashmir also was a challenging place to live due to the political instability among other factors. Then again, I never thought some of the instability I experienced in Kashmir would be things I’d see commonly in the US.
One of my first observations of politics in Kashmir and in the country of India was how childish so many of the politicians acted. There were lots of over the top drama scenes of shouting, yelling, pretending to fight, and other immature behavior frequently in the state assembly and sometimes in the national parliament. Now I look at my country and see lots of foolish, immature, self-centered politicians that more concerned about causing drama and news stories than they do about serving and governing the country and citizens who elected them. Maybe that has always been there in America, but the last several years with Trump as President have brought it more out in the open than ever before.
Protests on the streets with police and police/military violence were a regular part of life in Kashmir. From our house we often heard tear gas shells being fired to break up protests. I remember telling Kashmiris how we didn’t really have that kind of protest in America. Now I find myself amazed watching the protests against injustice across the country and then a President who tear gases protestors for a photo op of him at a church. My Kashmiri friends may wonder if I’m in more danger living in America than I was in Kashmir!
Kashmir was a place where I felt like there was great potential for growth, but it was being squandered by corrupt political and religious leaders who benefited from disunity and instability. Now I see America as a place that has often been considered a land of opportunity being torn apart by power hungry political and religious leaders with no concern for the long term consequences of their actions.
I’m struggling with discouragement from all the negative news in America. Our nation’s leaders have failed us in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic while also failing to take any responsibility. The pending election feels like a fitting end to a tumultuous 2020. Like we’re staggering toward our ruin brought about by one of the most incompetent, narcissistic, and divisive leaders in our nation’s history. It feels like no matter who wins the election our country will never be the same. I struggled at times in Kashmir with discouragement from the corruption, instability, and general lack of hope in the air. So it’s a familiar feeling, but nevertheless an unexpected one.