Monday, July 20, 2009

Belltown Murals - 3

There are only three murals in Belltown. Two are bad. One is not. This is the one that isn't bad. And it happens to be right smack on the side of the Rivoli here at 2nd & Blanchard. Have a look:

In case it's not entirely clear, it's a U.S. soldier in front of some generic brown people and they're all in front of something that's burning. Over all of that are the words "How much longer?" Unless you're on top of the Humphrey across the street, this thing is notoriously hard to photograph, but funny thing, it's not very hard to see and understand. Because all my shots were coming out weird, I borrowed this one from Seattle Daily Photo. Thanks, guys. Anyhow, this mural was painted sometime in 2004 when it was becoming abundantly clear that the Iraq War was spiraling out of control and that the leaders of this country were a bunch of delusional creeps and idiots. And honestly, for years and years, I'd hear the bad news coming out of Iraq and think "How much longer?" myself. This mural didn't make the situation better; it only made me realize that I wasn't the only one who thought that this conflict was terrible, tragic and, perhaps most goading of all, unnecessary - all those civilians and all of our soldiers killed in order to make a few people rich and a few others feel like they were in charge. Perhaps the worst feeling was the realization that all of this was being done in my name for some very small reasons. I'm an American, this is my country's war, all this bad stuff is happening based on myopic reasoning and general cluelessness and for years, things only became worse. It was heartbreaking all around. Six years later, things have gotten better because the morons who started it all finally realized that the original advice they got about restoring order was the best. In the end, everything calmed down after we started paying people off, not because of all the 2,000 lb. bombs we dropped. Yeah, it was far too late to make a difference for thousands.

Here we are more than five years after this was painted and it's still poignant. We may be steadily drawing down from Iraq, but now there's Afghanistan to worry about. I'm already thinking about how much longer that's going to take. I heard this thing on NPR this weekend with this guy who wrote a book about Afghanistan called The Graveyard of Empires and I can't help thinking that we're next in line for some very hard lessons. Of course, leaving is out of the question, because we'll just have to go back in another 10 years. Some problems are so elaborate that any solution is bad.

I didn't mean to get all political, but this mural does inspire strong feelings in me. I think that it represents the conscience of all those who were mocked and ridiculed for their opposition to the war by this country's leaders and commentariat. I was against it from the beginning, but didn't think that this great nation would be stupid enough to go through with it. After all, as Americans, we are sensible, intelligent and downright nice people who know when a bunch of lying goons is trying to pull one over on us, right? Well, you know what happened. And the people who perpetrated this are all still walking around. Oops, I'm getting all political again. Actually, I never stopped being political.

Let's just say that I love and treasure this mural. Its mission of provoking an emotional response in at least one viewer has been accomplished. I'm proud that it's on the side of my building.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Would you like to know who painted it?? ;)