Growing up in the eatly sixties on Granville Road in Southwick we would ride our bikes the 5 miles or so to the Granville Gorge. The uphill ride was hot and tough, but we were rewarded with the ice cold waters and pristine pools of nature at her best. Then, it was a long coast downhill as […]
The deaths of Phoebe Prince, Carl Walker-Hoover and Tyler Clementi are terrible tragedies for all of us. My heart goes out to their families and all who love them. The aftermath has brought countless forums, seminars, interviews and editorials. Our schools, churches and youth organizations offer programs and curricula to address bullying. We have new state laws. Still, we can’t seem to grasp what’s gone awry. We scramble to assign blame. Then unrelentingly bash those upon whom the finger comes to rest. We complain that our schools are not doing enough to teach social skills to 12 year olds who should have learned them long ago.
It’s time to look in the mirror. We live in a culture of meanness. It is pervasive and insidious. It is no longer fashionable to work out our differences. We must annihilate those who don’t share our views. We see it in our politics. We see it in sports. We see it in foreign policy. We see it in video games. We see it on sitcoms and reality shows. We even see it at the funerals of our fallen soldiers. Our kids see it, too.
We (and even more so our children) live in an amazing world of technology. It offers us entertainment, organization, and an avalanche of data. We can analyze anything and everything. We have become so enthralled with our technology and the data it provides that we have failed to recognize its sinister partners, objectification and dehumanization. When people are reduced to objects, numbers, test scores, screen names, and avatars we don’t have to be concerned with feelings.
It’s time to look in the mirror. How do we, ourselves, participate in the perpetuation of this culture of meanness? What are the lyrics we and our kids listen to? What video games do we give them money to buy? What movies do they go to? Do we watch TV with them and laugh when the characters insult and hurt each other (as the canned laugh track prompts us to do)? What language do we use when we talk about those who are different from us? Do we provide our children with communication devices without providing the wherewithal to use them humanely?
Yes . . . humanely!!! We need to reinvest in the Human Connection by doing whatever we can to stop the pervasive spread of dehumanization in our society. If we want our kids to stop bullying, then we must stop applauding, reinforcing and voting for it.
It was Walt Kelly’s Pogo who said . . .“We have met the enemy and he is us.”
236 years ago today a group of brave patriots declared independence . . . independence from George III . . . independence from the British government . . . and independence from huge British corporations, such as the British East India Company, which through its vast holdings and deep pockets largely controlled that British government.
We need to embrace the spirit of that declaration and revisit our constitution to end corporate personhood once and for all.
“. . . corporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires. Corporations help structure and facilitate the activities of human beings, to be sure, and their ‘personhood’ often serves as a useful legal fiction. But they are not themselves members of “We the People” by whom and for whom our Constitution was established.”
As near as I can remember, my interest in photography goes back to the mid fifties. I was 10 or 11 years old when Mom and Dad gave me a Brownie camera for my birthday. It was a pretty simple bakelite point and shoot, but I loved that camera. It shot medium format 120 film, and I had to do all kinds of odd jobs to earn money to afford it and the processing. That camera remains one of those birthday presents I still remember more than fifty years later.
In college in the sixties, a buddy of mine discovered that there was a budget for a photography club, but no club. We went to the dean and were told that if we could enlist a faculty advisor, we could activate the club. I don’t recall who we drafted, but we found someone who agreed as long as we wouldn’t bother them. My buddy, Rich, became President. I was VP, and Rich’s cousin, George, served as treasurer. The three of us were the entire club. We had a well equipped darkroom, a few cameras, and an operating budget. We began shooting for the yearbook and college newspaper.We held exhibits, sponsored contests (which we usually won), and increased the equipment inventory. It was pretty much all black & white photography. We taught ourselves darkroom techniques like dodging and burning-in. We purchased (for the club, of course) a number of interchangable lenses. That’s when I discovered 35mm SLR (single lens reflex) photography.
I bought my first Canon 35mm camera (I think my son has it now) at the Fort Dix PX in the late sixties. I did a few weddings for friends, some baby photography, and kept entering contests. In the seventies I joined the Springfield Photographic Society which met monthly at the Museum Quadrangle. I learned a lot from other photographers, both amateur and professional, read a lot of books and took a course or two. Somewhere along the line I bought another Canon (I think my son has it now).
The kids arrived in the eighties, and my photography became documentary family life. We have several bins of prints and slides like most families with adult children. Both kids are artists (and bloggers). Our daughter is a writer and our son’s a web developer/photographer. My own photography kind of faded into the background until my retirement gift rekindled the spark that still seems to be there.
Lynne gave me a new Canon EOS as a retirement gift. The day after she gave it to me I took it on a morning walk near our home in Western Massachusetts. We might not live in the mountains or at the sea shore, but nature’s beauty is all around us wherever we might live.