Monday, May 15, 2006

All, but lost

Emilio Morenatti's striking photograph of these young Afghan girls is arresting, both for the spectrum of personality that can be apprehended and for the beauty, innocence and dismal weariness conveyed on the faces of girls who should have no such look at this age. But it is there, haunting. These girls have probably not known anything other than strife and affliction in their young lives and already the conditions of their homeland, the warring, the oppression, the poverty, appear to have taken their toll. That such young lives have known only the harshest of realities should move us all to question the state of the world, the state of the world's governments. There is far too much that is wrong. Though they do not tell us so, we can see this truth in them.

These girls might have wondered what was happening when this photograph was taken, as it was during the Afghan elections in October of 2004. Though they did not likely understand what was being promised them and their poor country -- a hopeful future -- it is probably just as well. Elsewise, it would simply have been more hope further crushed by the world's mad, indifferent boot as it routinely stomps upon the poorest of this earth's people.

And though the routing of the Taliban and the putative elections had never really changed much in the country, that seems more true now than ever. News has been extensive that the Taliban are on the rise and their recently conducted public execution would indicate that, indeed, they are the law of that land once again. And though these girls will never know the promises we are failing to keep, nor what they might have meant, that does not mitigate the sorrow and shame we all should feel as we watch our government fail in its meager attempt, so disingenuous as it now looks, to bring that promise of hope to these young girls or, indeed, to all of Afghanistan.

You may weep for these children for what they have never had. You may weep for them and for our failure to bring them that which we promised. We should ask ourselves why our efforts there have been so sparse, so temperate and so utterly ineffectual. But mostly, we should fight for them and do so seriously, instead of conducting a routinely meaningless posturing toward their destitute country, overrun and warred upon as it has been for decades. Children as these deserve better, as do they all. We have the means to bring it to them, at least we would if we so chose. And be assured; if you bring a better life to these children, they will reward you a thousand fold, as your future and better neighbours.

And that is how you win the war on terror. We know this is true. When we will start acting like we know it?


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