Infinitesimal Dust

Perhaps the most ironic thing about the state of global affairs at the moment is that countries and states like Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia used the Taliban to poke at the United States and undermine the United States but then refuse to recognize the Taliban in order to do business with the United States. Thus, the hypocrisy on the part of these countries and states is both laughable and sad.

But if Washington were agile enough to make a pivot away from its hegemonic posture, it could proceed with being the first country to recognize the Taliban as the de jure government of Afghanistan in order to get “first dibs” per se, before countries like Russia and China could proceed with boxing the United States out of Afghanistan. Otherwise, it is entirely possible for Afghanistan to survive without mimicry and handouts from Washington. After all, billions of people around the world survive without mimicry and handouts from Washington. Plus, no one can put a price tag on political independence.

Also, even with the decades-long history of confrontation and war, courage, honesty, and straightforwardness are values and virtues that should be appreciated even by one’s adversaries and foes. In turn, the onus is on Washington to overcome the natural barrier generated by liberal ontology and thus seek good relations through good-faith dialogue and engagement even with people who do not conform to Washington’s liberal ontology.

Whereas the imposition of liberal ontology was the primary goal of Washington since the beginning of the 21st century, culture and identity are at the heart of economic, political, and social life for billions of people around the globe. As Francis Fukuyama wrote:

“Research on ethnic movements around the world has shown that individual self-esteem is related to the esteem conferred on the larger group with which one is associated; thus, the political would affect the personal. Each movement represented people who had up to then been invisible and suppressed; each resented that invisibility and wanted public recognition of their inner worth. So was born what we today label as modern identity politics. Only the term was new; these groups were replicating the struggles and perspectives of earlier nationalist and religious identity movements.”

And the forerunner or perhaps the inspiration for Fukuyama’s realization of the enormity and importance of culture and identity in global affairs was the famous Samuel Huntington, who wrote: “A multicultural world is unavoidable because global empire is impossible.” Huntington added: “In a multicivilizational world, the constructive course is to renounce universalism, accept diversity, and seek commonalities.”

Until now, such arguments and points were seen as blasphemy in Washington. But change is not impossible. And a number of us are not very interested in material gain once the change occurs. Psychic income is more important than material gain for many of us. As Rumi wrote in a poem titled “Infinitesimal Dust”:

What is the light in the center of the darkness inside your soul?

A royal radiance or a fantasy

the way the full moon sometimes comes up in daylight?

But this is the sun itself,

Shams and a truth prior to the soul.

Human beings cannot endure such clarity. We make statues, apply paint, and use words with hidden allusions.

When the eye that has seen Shams

turns to look somewhere else,

what does it see?

In the love-ocean clothes are an embarrassment.

Do not look to be famous here,

and do not expect payment.

An east wind bringing infinitesimal dust from Tabriz

is the most I expect.

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