Foreign Intelligence Briefing #387: Thinking Of Afghanistan With Beauty And Humanity

November 4, 2011.

I like this short film by Lukas and Salome Augustin because it reminds me of how beauty and humanity co-exist in a place that we’ve been relentlessly conditioned to negate the existence of both. Societies tend to dehumanize their adversaries in times of war. We do it in order to make the killing easier to shrug off. In the case of Afghanistan, we’ve long made a habit it, going back to the British Raj (remember your Kipling: “When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains, and the women come out to cut up what remains, just roll to your rifle and blow out your brains and go to your God like a soldier”). If we succumbed to our media’s treatment of the decade-old conflict today, we’d all share a vision of a brown, war-torn shit-hole; a 15th century den reserved for heroin-making, intolerant, terrorist-enabling fanatics who’d sooner blow up an ancient statue of Buddha than play a round of golf. But it’s never that simple. Despite our society’s seemingly perennial effort to de-sensitize us to the destruction of these people (in the name of their country’s salvation), they are clearly as human and beautiful as we are. What a tremendous shame it is that we were ever meant to doubt it.

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