-sharing reflections on what I've heard and am hearing, learned and am learning,
from voices in the Holy Land, the USA, and Rwanda-

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

what 1000 words do you see?

"A picture speaks a thousand words." 

It's practically a given that we've all heard this quote before--it's one of the oldest adages in the book.  Call it cliche, but these words sure are accurate.   Much of what we base our initial judgements, assumptions, decisions, and conclusions on are the things we see around us.  Our experiences shape the way we think.  Our minds are not unaffected by images put before us. 

For instance, what does this picture say to you?

Who is the soldier?  Who is the other man?  What are they doing.  Is the man mocking the solidier?  Is the soldier threatening the man?  Where is the gun pointed?  Are there more people around them?  What is going on here?  What happens next...?


....Would it surprise you if I said these two men were not even interacting?  The man, Ibrahim, was simply trying to sell my friends and me some of his souvenirs as we walked the streets of Old City Hebron.  He walked away from us shortly after the photo was taken.  The soldier was on duty securing a group of settlers/tourists as they toured the old Jewish homes in the Old City.  At that moment, these men were both peacefully doing their jobs.  Yet how easily this picture could be skewed to represent either side of the conflict that, as we see here, has become visible throughout everyday life and duties. 

How do we let pictures like this and what people have to say about them affect the way we think and imagine, or affect what we decidedly believe?  We have to challenge ourselves to determine the truth despite what we may be told by media sources.  We have to talk with people and hear about their experiences rather than merely experience people who talk a lot about things they might not really know or understand.  We need to recognize the significance of two men who are both doing their jobs, but will most likely never share a friendly conversation about their day at work.  Regardless of what we see from day to day, we should first and foremost recognize that whomever we see here are first and foremost people--people who all breathe the same air, and bleed the same blood, and share the same emotions.  

I have come into this world to see this:

the sword drop from men's hands
even at the height of
their arc of
because we have finally realized
there is just one flesh
we can wound.

-Hafiz of Persia

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