Art is what defines us. It is history, a marker of where we have been and who we where. The art of this century will be a signpost for generations after us, as glaring as a pink graffitied “Kilroy was Here” symbol on a dark grey wall. It will not only tell them who we were, it will tell them why we were.
The travesty of what is occurring in Iraq only brings this message home harder. The looters who are pillaging and stealing art are not just taking priceless artifacts for personal gain. They are stealing us, our identities. They are removing our history and selling it to the highest bidder.
Of course, war, like all things, is both a destructive and creative force. It is a given that things will be removed in war that will never been seen again. However, this does not mean that we should simply accept this fact as the status quo and move forward without caring. If the art and artifacts created had been obliterated by the myriad wars since civilization began, we would have no record today of who we were. It must be preserved at all costs. The ways to do this are hard to pin down, as there is never a “cure-all” solution to any problem. I for one would suggest an organization for the preservation of historical artifacts, with representatives from each country invested, whose goal is to build safe and safeguarded places to store our history; museums built in neutral countries or protected with state of the art technologies, perhaps.
The only way to preserve what is being lost is through the cooperation of people with differing values, different governments, and vastly different views on life. But if we can come together to create art, surely we can come together to save it.