No, standing back and staring at the world with an affected sneer, confident that it is all going to hell in a handbasket and why bother, really, why bother at all with the why’s and the how’s and the what-can-be-done’s about it all… Chatting in little circled groups about the “sad reality” of it, the “hard truth of things”… No, this does not make you smarter, it does not make you wiser, it does not make you more well-rounded than the rest, than those who cry and shake their fists whether or not their energy is wasted.

It just makes you one of the many who has reached the resigned conclusion: evil exists, evil persists, evil will continue to subsist on the pain and suffering of others.  It is the state of the world since humanity entered on the scene.  Sigh.  Shrug.  Put down the New York Times and turn off the news, and go do some gardening.  Less stress, gardening — less confrontation and misery to be found in aphids on roses than in tyrannical dictators murdering thousands, thousands of miles away.

Where have all our heroes gone?

I know you would agree with me, that human souls like Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., Winston Churchill — these hearts and minds would not turn away and tell themselves that nothing can be done, and therefore, nothing should be.  We revere these Champions, we list them on our Facebook pages and profiles as our inspiration, our heroes.  So why are we not like them?  Why, when presented with the chance to follow their examples, their footsteps, their teachings, we balk and move in the opposite direction?

Is it because we dare not risk involvement, out of fear and arrogance?  Fear that we might actually be called upon to show strength and bravery, take pain and suffering in the name of what is right…Arrogance that we are too above it all to be sucked down into someone else’s mire — it’s their lot, it’s their misery, let them slog it out and discover they should never have bothered in the first place.  Or is it the mindset of isolationism, the philosophy of non-intervention; after all, why should we intervene, kill more American lives for non-American causes?

I say to you, and end with this: freedom IS the American cause.  And if France, 240 years ago, had felt the same as we do, now, we would have lost the Revolutionary War and succombed to another era of agony and bitterness.  We are free because the French sent forces, help, aid, and reignited the faith and bravery of a flagging Rebel army.   We owe our lives and nation to the disregard of cynicism, the trouncing of arrogance, the however-naive-and-innocent Ideal that a cause is worthy dying for when any man lays down his life in its name.

We’ve gone so long, this world, without something to believe in.   And that does not make us any smarter, wiser or happier, either.

C & J Photography

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fire in berkeley

Posted: February 23, 2011 in society, Uncategorized

Went foraging for photo shots yesterday, the two of us striding down Telegraph Avenue and pretending not to be fascinated by the fire engines, with their ladders dramatically extended, clustered in flashing-whooping-blinking fashion around Cafe Intermezzo and its apartments above.  On the side of the street were clustered a group of little yuppie urbanites, talking excitedly with a police officer and eagerly devouring whatever information she chose to divulge.  At the other side were two men in crisp, clean suits, gesturing at the engines and the massive, squirming snake-pile of hoses, bulging with water, in the middle of the street — undoubtedly hypothesising with arrogant conviction as to the cause of the smokeless, invisible, why-the-hell-are-there-five-fire-engines-for-no-discernible-reason, but surely very life-threatening fire.   The cops stood about, important and stiff and dramatic.  The firemen stood about, important and confused and dramatic.  The emergency vehicles surrounded the entire corner, important and ridiculous and dramatic.  And 20 or 30 feet down the street, were clustered a group of dreadlocked, hemp-attired youth, one of whom was playing his bongo drums as the others nodded along and talked quietly.  They were utterly uninterested in the silly little scene playing out down the street.  They did not feel it necessary to gesture and posture, preen and stare, babble and prattle and conjecture arrogantly as if their presence or influence mattered one damn iota in the moment.  As we passed by, one of them – a girl with a nose piercing that looked both beautiful and terrifying – looked up at me, then down the street at the “fire”, then back at me… Her expression seemed to say, “Isn’t it all beyond insipid and ridiculous?”  And for a moment, I felt special, important, to be included in her silent, conspiratorial judgement.  Until I realized, that made me just the same as the crisp, clean suits 30 feet away.  Why do we feel the need to inject ourselves into other scenes and situations that have nothing to do with us?  Why are we not enough for ourselves?

C & J Photography