Monday, February 28, 2011

Reflections on Windows and Mirrors

I’ve been riding the city bus a lot recently, so much so that I feel like I am on the bus more often than in the office, or anywhere else for that matter. In fact as I write this blog entry I am sitting on the bus, office bound and surrounded by strangers also on their way work. Coming from a rural, Ohio town to a southern city where the public transportation system is only used by a small segment of the community I have been given the opportunity to look around the seats. The untimely departure of my transmission has allowed me the time to experience my city from a different perspective and I am very thankful.
I often find myself wondering while on the bus; is it possible to make the WAM exhibit accessible and interesting to these hard working people, with their hour commutes in a relatively small city? Can we find a way to spark the interest of the average person riding the number nine every morning at 8 AM? These questions are almost immediately followed by my own answer in the negative. It is merely a pipe dream to think we could get these folks interested in a war being fought thousands of miles away, especially when there is so much to worry about here in Greensboro, NC.
It is this mind-set, this belief that we are not affected nor can affect things that happen so far away from home that has allowed so many wars to be fought, so many resources to be wasted, and so many lives to be lost. It becomes easy to forget that in this day and age we are more interconnected than we care to imagine. If we are battling daily to put food on the table and manage with meager resources it is not understandable, but expected, that we put little effort into learning about people in which education, food, and safety are not givens. Perhaps instead of spending three million dollars on a sending one US soldier to Afghanistan the woman sitting across the aisle on my morning commute could have access to more affordable health care? But this is not something that our elected officials advertise. Yes, the military plays a role in our economy, especially in North Carolina, deemed one of the most military-friendly states in the U.S., but is this war in Afghanistan really the best use of our resources?
I’m obviously a dreamer, young and idealistic. But I don’t think it is being unrealistic to think that those who we can reach through Windows and Mirrors can take the time to work for a change in the status quo. It is practical to hope that those who view these murals will leave touched and inspired to, if nothing else, sign an advocacy card on their way out the door. I also don’t think it is too much to hope that through continued efforts by organizations like AFSC and all our partners here in Greensboro we can continue to amplify the voices of the many who suffer in silence. It is only through education and awareness that true change will be realized.
I’m almost to my stop, and I can’t help but take one final look around the bus. What would it take for my fellow commuters to put the suffering of the citizens in Afghanistan on their already full plates? I don’t think there is an answer, but I do know that I can do my best to reach out to every part of my community. I can work to help others recognize the equality that spans all of humanity whether you are on a bus in Greensboro, North Carolina or a school house in Kabul.

Megan Fair

For more information on the exhibit Windows and Mirrors: Reflections on the War in Afghanistan go to www.afsc.org/greensboro

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