by Stephen McNeil, AFSC
[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n 2009, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) put out a nationwide call to artists through the Chicago Public Art Group and the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, seeking contributions for a traveling memorial to Afghan civilians who have died in the war. The response exceeded our expectations.
Over the next few months, more than 40 muralists donated their talents by designing and painting individual murals on sheets of acrylic cloth. We thank them for their generosity and commitment to peace. Four Bay Area artists contributed, including Street Spirit’s own Art Hazelwood and artist Juan Fuentes whose joint work, “Kabul Wedding,” highlights the immoral use of drones in modern warfare:
The war in Afghanistan is now the longest in U.S. history, yet for many of us it has been rendered largely invisible. “Windows and Mirrors: Reflections on the War in Afghanistan” is an invitation to reflect upon the impact of this war on a civilian population caught in the crossfire.
The 45 panels created by international artists and U.S. students help us imagine the experience of Afghan civilians — from death and destruction to hopes for peace. Drawings by Afghan students in Kabul, collected in June 2010, provide an up-close look at life in a war zone.
This mural is not a single painting, but an oversized statement on the human cost of war, measuring more than 900 square feet. It is not the voice of one person, but that of an engaged artistic community. Their collective voice comes through with power and passion, speaking to us on both intellectual and emotional levels.
We are present in every shot fired, every missile launched, and every bomb dropped. But this is not our only option. We also can be present in acts of diplomacy and reconciliation, community reconstruction and peaceful partnership. The choice is ours.
The war is costly not only for Afghan civilians, but for those of us at home. All we hear about in the mainstream media are endless cutbacks of social services and enormous deficits caused by military spending and tax cuts for the rich.
What do we spend our taxes on? Wars and past wars. Tax breaks and subsidies are for the wealthy, while working-class taxpayers pay for our misplaced priorities and endless wars. Right now, Oakland taxpayers have spent more than $1.5 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. U.S. taxpayers will pay out more than three trillion dollars.
It’s time to stop the nonsense.
New Priorities Campaign (www.newprioritiescampaign.org) has a declaration at their website that you can sign which calls for new priorities in spending.
AFSC has a great organizing tool, “Move the Money—Move the Economy” at www.afsc.org/resource/move-money-action-toolkit. Share this with your friends and faith group and join AFSC in fighting for cuts to the Pentagon budget and for funding human needs and jobs.
On October 15, join with AFSC at the Rebuild the Dream rally and march beginning at 1 p.m. at Laney College (one block from Lake Merritt BART). The rally is at 3:30 pm at Frank Ogawa Plaza.
by Fatana Jahangir Ahrary
Remember you promised
When the birds fly back home
When the winter is gone
When the spring sun shines again
You will be here
You will be back
Winter is gone
Birds are back home
Spring sun is shining
You are not here
You are not back
WINDOWS AND MIRRORS
“Windows And Mirrors: Reflections on the War in Afghanistan” is a traveling exhibit of 45 panels created by artists and U.S. and Kabul students to help us imagine the experience of Afghan civilians – from death and destruction to hopes for peace.
Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California, 1433 Madison St.
4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday
In San Francisco:
University of San Francisco (K-Hall)
7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday-Friday
SSchwartz@afsc.org to schedule group tours.
Programs promoting dialogue and action will be hosted at both venues throughout the month of October. Please see details below.
University of San Francisco:
2130 Fulton St. (MUNI buses 5, 21 and 31)
San Francisco, CA
Thursday October 6, 2011 5 – 8 p.m.
Opening at Kalmanovitz Hall, USF
Interfaith Prayer Vigil – 5 p.m.
Reception following at McLaren Conference Center Room 251
Thursday October 13, 7 p.m
Counter-terrorism to Counter-insurgency and After:
Exit Strategies for Afghanistan
McLaren Conference Center, Room 252
(Keally D. McBride – Assoc. Professor of Politics, Chair of
Peace and Justice Studies, USF and Matt Southworth IVAW
President of DC Chapter and Friends Comm. On National Legislation)
Thursday – October 20, 7 pm
Institution Building and Civil Society
Maraschi Hall Fromm Hall, USF
(Featuring Suraya Sadeed – Help the Afghan Children, Peter Lems,
American Friends Service Committee and Dr. Stephen Zunes, USF
Co-sponsored by afghans for Afghans)
Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California:
1433 Madison St. (between 14th and 15th St, near 12th St. BART)
Saturday October 15, 2011 5-7 pm
Opening with Afghan food, music and panel discussion
(Featuring Matt Southworth – IVAW and Friends Committee on National Legislation)
Saturday – October 22 7 pm
Afghan Response to the War
Suraya Sadeed from Help the Afghan Children and Peter Lems, AFSC
Co-sponsored by afghans for Afghans
Saturday – October 29 5 – 9 pm
Closing – Art in Action from Afghanistan to the Bay Area: youth activists/artists