Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Newseum, Pulitzer Photographies and Reflection

There is a famous saying by Maya Angelou, "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away". Last weekend at Newseum in Washington DC was the moment that continuously and repeatedly took my breath away. The experience was powerful and emotional; I looked inward to my small world full of insignificant and transient "breath of life" that I pined and held on so dearly and I looked outward to all the bits and pieces of history laid out clearly before me, and I was undone.

Eyes are too often deceiving as they are highly selective to what the beholders want to see (remember that we are told not to walk by sight but by faith?) One set of eyes could see the injustice happening one block away while another set of eyes could overlook the poverty right under his nose and ironically is only drawn to the sport car blazing right before his very eyes. 

My eyes are susceptible to that too, but all the great exhibits hanging in front of me immobilize my eyes from looking anywhere else, sucking my entire attention. In that moment, I choose to see the helplessness yet innocence of this baby during a war in Kosovo, having to be passed back and forth as his family was separated by a barbed wire. 

I choose to see the face of evil in the ruthless and gruesome act of lynching people and then banging the head with folding chair. Some grinned. A public spectacle. I choose to see the fate of an innocent one year old after a brutal city bombing. I choose to see the face of famine and drought, and I choose to look deeper until it dawned on me that some children died the most disgraceful death: devoured by vultures. 

I choose to see and try to understand why would a person burn another person to death?  I choose to see the agony of a sister wailed in grief as she saw her brother's feet buried under the rubble, unable to pull him out. I choose to see and clearly I see that every person has a story but unfortunately, those stories are often unknown and only rarely captured. Only once in a while, it is shared, and immortalized, by a click of a camera.

Even once they are captured, they are often treated like a hidden archive - exist but unknown. It is not only the eyes that choose not to see, but what most accessible to the eyes are often the rubbish and cheap imitation of life. Look at a magazine stand and what the eyes could see is a complete betrayal of reality: a thin model posing glamorously, a mouthwatering $40 meal, a shiny sport car and the latest technological gadget. Look at your Facebook stream and what you see is an imbalance of passion between reality and fake reality.  People posting, commenting, and shouting proudly about their "greatest dinner ever", "happiest vacation", "where could I get this, I want!!".

I see a distortion here. There is nothing wrong with deep passion for food, gadget or nature, but clearly I have a problem when a restaurant gets more review and exposure than these people out there. Enjoy food, enjoy beauty and enjoy money. But with people, don't just enjoy them, love them, with even greater passion! As beautiful as the mountain is, or as delicious as the food is, they are no way near as precious and beautiful as human beings. You know that, right? 

If your house is engulfed by fire, are you going to run into the fire and save your stunning picture with the great and mighty grand canyon? Are you going to risk your life for a recipe book, or a gadget or a book? I know I'm not but why do I care so much about where do I want to eat tonight? Why am I making my dinner meal as the headline news of the day? 

Truly, life is measured by the moments that take our breath away, and we need eyes wide opened to see what most precious in life. Some things can take your breath away, momentarily and never give it back to you, waiting for you to be suffocated. Some other things can take your breath away, and then re-breath it in back to you, and give you life. Switch your eyes for a while and look to the other end of the world or even look to your neighbor, look beyond your fortress of comfort and pleasure and you'll see what my eyes have been blessed to see. Behold and let your purified eyes be the judge, what do I wanna see today? Do I wanna see life, or do I wanna see the counterfeit?

*all the pictures were taken from my visit to Newseum thus the crooked pictures. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Insightful Quote

It doesn't matter, really, how great the pressure is, it only matters where the pressure lies. See that it never comes between you and the Lord - then, the greater the pressure, the more it presses you to His breast.

- Hudson Taylor