Cracked has an amusing article today on people who didn’t know their faces had become famous. What struck me was #3 — the famous Afghan Girl with the startling eyes. Here is her full story. No one knew who she was until National Geographic tracked her down. They have a picture of her both as a young woman and as an older woman, prematurely aged by two decades of hell. She’s maybe 30 but her face looks 50. But the striking eyes are still there.
The picture, to me, encapsulates the difference between civilization and barbarism. Had this girl lived in a civilized society, she would still look as alive and beautiful as she did in the first picture. She’s be in the early stages of a career, maybe starting a family. Instead, the barbarism of communism, tribalism and Islamic fundamentalism has her scrabbling out an existence, a second-class human in her own country. And even more depressingly, she supports these things — praising the Burkha and the Taliban (although whether she would be free to criticize either is an open question).
We can’t civilize the barbarians, unfortunately. But we can remind ourselves of how they grind people down, destroy their potential, destroy their very physical existence. Civilization, for all its flaws, is an unthinkable improvement upon the lack thereof. And anyone who fails to recognize it needs to be reminded as often as possible.