The root of street art is Freedom. Expression. A voice. A point of view. Youth culture has always been rooted in these ideals. But the youth in Afghanistan have grown up under the darkness of the Taliban.
Few in the U.S. notice the stimulus package in Kabul, Islamabad, Baghdad, and elsewhere is going great guns. Nowhere is it clear that Washington is committed to packing up its tents, abandoning its billion-dollar monuments, and coming home.
Put yourself in the place of an Afghan. When you see photographs of Karzai's men stuffing ballot boxes, and a U.S. president telephones to congratulate him on his victory, while admitting the election was "messy," what are you to make of it?
Khamad Jan, age 22, remembers that, as a youngster, he was a good student who enjoyed studying. "Now, I can't seem to think," he said sadly, looking at the ground. There was a long pause. "War does this to your mind."
Afghanistan's youth are living their lives every day under great strain, never knowing if their country will one day be at peace again, but determined to find their own voice in amongst the rubble that surrounds them.
I recently assisted in a surgical procedure in Kabul on a young boy. The chief surgeon was an Afghan man. I didn't know how he would respond to a woman as our fierce Asian eyes met over surgical masks.