We all eagerly await the  soon Republican-controlled House of Representatives’ investigation of the conduct of the war in Afghanistan during the current administration.

Ponder if you will, the contrast between what happened during all the years since 9/11 in Afghanistan and what has happened these past months in Ukraine.  To the first place we send weapons and troops and we lose.  To the second we send weapons and do better. What is going on? A guy has a theory to address that. 

It’s about marriage the guy says. In his history book back in the days when the Pope was sending missionaries to convert barbarians (about 600 A.D.) rules for marriage were in the missionaries’ message. Those rules banned polygamy and arranged marriages—that made “I do” part of the ritual—and marriage to relatives. Relatives were defined broadly. At times to include cousins (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th 5th, 6th), aunts, uncles, stepmothers, godparents and widows of brothers. And, of course, marriage to non-Christians not allowed either. The Orthodox Church was even stricter on this matter. Protestants supported these taboos as well. Subscribing to even some of these marriage taboos spelled the end of strong tribal and clan loyalties.

Pope was not up on the O. T. marriage stories of Abraham, Issac and Jacob, and the tribal thing they had, it might seem. But then, Jesus wasn’t either. Gospel writers starting off with genealogies followed immediately with stories of Jesus taking on followers outside of his kinship and saying, “Who is my mother?” Blood kinship was not special to him.  

Readers who are fans of the Godfather movies should be informed that Sicily and the boot of Italy were beyond the Pope’s domaine in those days. Muslims ruled there then. So mafia rules remained the rules there. Cousin marriage there is, even now, 10 times higher than in the north. Even more in support of the theory is the random fact that residents of the industrial north of Italy donate blood at 100 times more than those who live in the boot of Italy or on Sicily. 

So, the theory claims firstly, the Church uprooted kinship-intensive cultures and secondly, that uprooting of kinship-intensive cultures made those people different, profoundly different. They had cause to learn to deal with strangers. And did so. Men able get along smoothly with men within their own societies, paradoxically, made them more formidable warriors when societies competed. The ability to come together in large groups with a common purpose, led to increasing consolidation of political units through out Europe. That was a great boon to commerce, created a large market place for innovations and lead to economic leadership about five centuries later.

In a scripture selection, my favorite, Jesus is quoted as saying, “I am come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly.” I delight in seeing yet another way that is true. So I like the guy’s theory. Afghanistan has tribes. Ukraine doesn’t. 

Jim Holland
Afghanistan has tribes. Ukraine doesn’t. 

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