Thursday, June 17, 2010

Afghanistan the Beautiful

Afghanistan Through Teenagers' Eyes | Foreign Policy

The Afghanistan War is something that many of us Americans care about but have long since stopped following. And who can blame us? Everyday it seems there is another troubling story of corruption, mismanagement, an intimidated population, and behind it all an increasing number of casualties. How many heartbreaking stories should one be expected to absorb? Nevertheless, attention is called for. As part of our responsibilities as citizens of a democracy, we are expected to study a horrifying object, war. Surely this is a strange duty, especially for those of us who strive to be people of peace and compassion, but we owe this much because the war is fought in our name and we have some power to alter its course. If the war is unjustified or becomes unjustified, then it is our duty to prevent it, end it, or change how it is fought. This requires that we attend to news of the war. But attending to the war comes with risks, for the things we study we come to love or at least accept, but if war ever ceases to be horrifying, then our seeing has become distorted from that of democratic citizens, much less people of compassion, to disciples of the god of war.

That's the power of these photographs taken by teenagers: they remind us that Afghanistan is not simply a place of war/horror. Afghanistan is full of beauty, even after decades of war. This, of course, should not come as a surprise to anyone familiar with Afghanistan, but perhaps this too is telling of the power of war, that simply following the news from the war can cause us to forget that beauty still exists, even in a place of war.

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