Travel: Uzbek-Afghan Border Region

I took this photo in the Uzbek-Afghan border region. It’s a porous border in a dangerous area, with illegal crossings on a daily basis—people fleeing war, people searching for drugs, people searching for weapons—and neither government has the will nor the means to deal with the problem.

Unfortunately, people live in this area. They have dilapidated homes and menial jobs and kids that go to dangerous schools.

This particular photo is taken inside a complex of homes. At night people urinate, defecate, and sleep in this narrow hallway. They are exposed to the elements, and the kids who live inside the rooms are afraid to go outside. There’s no nighttime traffic, but you often will hear gunfire.

I see these things in my work and travel, but then I come back to the United States and it can be so hard to process everything: the whiny, selfish kids in Wal-Mart; the parents that hassle teachers at school for dumb reasons; the teachers who deserve to be hassled for serious reasons.

The absurd. The asinine.

There’s so much of it. You reach a point you feel like a sponge that’s been submerged in a lake. There’s simply no room left to feel much of anything.

If you dwell on it too much it can be unhealthy.

But you can’t ignore it and also be moral.

What then?

I took this photo and taped it above my computer. For all its beauty, we live in a dangerous world filled with great heartache—and this picture is my reminder to be grateful that my corner of the world has been blessed far beyond anything we ever deserved.

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