A sad subject.  It repulses me that I need to address the issue in this column, a column I’ve put a lot of work into over the last three years with the only purpose being to help people enjoy and understand photography.  All people. Yet I must.

Canon 1ds Mark II, 85mm F1.2L USM  @F2.8  1/125th  ISO 100

 

A sad subject.  It repulses me that I need to address the issue in this column, a column I’ve put a lot of work into over the last three years with the only purpose being to help people enjoy and understand photography.  All people. Yet I must.

“Adults” understand, that despite ideological and theological differences, there are certain venues where its considered poor form, in fact rather low class, to inject these differences into the venue.  This column would be one of those venues.  We’re here for everyone, and we welcome input from everyone.  The topics are technical and artistic in nature and these are areas shared by everyone.

And even when differences exist, and you choose to address them, you should be able to make your case in a mature and respectful manner.  Vulgarity and baiting are qualities no one respects.

I’m genuinely saddened.

And insulted.  Someone came into my ‘house’ and insulted my guests.

Enough negativity.

 

Not long ago someone from back home asked me “what’s your favorite part of living overseas.”  The answer came instantly and with ease.

My favorite part of living overseas is the people.  The people who are native to the countries I visit, the tourists who visit these countries, and most of all my fellow expats I share these countries with.  Would it be a surprise to anyone that as an American, the vast majority of those I consider good friends are not American?

 

It has nothing to do with where someone comes from, it’s mostly about proximity, common experiences, and a shared desire to experience anyone with the same human principles and values.  And to a degree, those who share the same interests such as hobbies, foods, travel, etc..

Canon 1ds Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM  @F8  1/500th  200mm ISO 200

 

It has nothing to do with where someone comes from, it’s mostly about proximity, common experiences, and a shared desire to experience anyone with the same human principles and values.  And to a degree, those who share the same interests such as hobbies, foods, travel, etc..

My parents if alive wouldn’t be surprised, but they’d take notice of the differences between who I am now, and my environment where I was raised.  As a child I think my parents and close family hated everyone (who wasn’t like them) equally, but held an even greater hate for certain races and religions.  I rejected them from the moment I found my own voice.  From a logical standpoint which is all I had at this young age, their viewpoints didn’t make sense to me.

Yet, as I lived life I noticed even though I rejected their racism I still carried terminology and sometimes habits from my past.  Sometimes I would surprise, and then hate myself, for what came from my own mouth without thought or reason.  Conditioning is a powerful thing.

 

One example stands strong in my mind:  It was during the first Gulf War when emotions were high.  I was in a staff meeting and perhaps because I wanted them to listen to me, or respect me, I used the term “raghead” during my brief.  Most every head nodded in approval.  I enjoyed their response.  During a break a fellow serviceman of higher rank came up to me and told me he was offended because he and his family were of Arab descent.  He said this softly and without malice or threat, then turned and walked away.

Canon 1ds Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM  @F8  1/400th  200mm  ISO 200

 

One example stands strong in my mind:  It was during the first Gulf War when emotions were high.  I was in a staff meeting and perhaps because I wanted them to listen to me, or respect me, I used the term “raghead” during my brief.  Most every head nodded in approval.  I enjoyed their response.  During a break a fellow serviceman of higher rank came up to me and told me he was offended because he and his family were of Arab descent.  He said this softly and without malice or threat, then turned and walked away.

I could have easily dismissed him, no one would have defended his complaint if indeed he made a complaint.  However, during the remaining minutes of the break I asked myself why I used that specific terminology.  I’d realized once again something had come from my mouth without the ‘right’ thought or reason.

When the briefing resumed and I had everyone’s attention I reminded them of what I said, and I told everyone there I was wrong and had inadvertently offended someone.  I then apologized publically to the person I offended and promised to not use this or other like terms again.  It felt good.  Several murmured, and one outside my team even voiced concern I was soft.  My team immediately corrected him.  I have never been known to be soft in such matters.

 

During our deployment and when operating in the Mideast I remembered this lesson and I can’t count the number of times I benefitted.  Or the number of times I saw others loudly make the same stupid errors of judgment, and then immediately or later pay a huge price for their ignorance.

Canon 1ds Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM  @F8  1/640th  160mm  ISO 200

 

During our deployment and when operating in the Mideast I remembered this lesson and I can’t count the number of times I benefitted.  Or the number of times I saw others loudly make the same stupid errors of judgment, and then immediately or later pay a huge price for their ignorance.

My point is an intelligent and reasonable man learns and progresses.  Perhaps they weren’t always such, but they become such.

When overseas, my greatest joy and that which I value the most, are the diversity of my hosts, acquaintances, and especially my friends.  They’ve taught me much and given me great insight into their culture, religions, and values.  What greater gift?

 

And I try to remember, like it or not, every stupid thing which comes from my own mouth, is used by those around me to judge my fellow Americans.  The timeless cliché “we’re all ambassadors of our own countries” remains as true today as it did when it was first coined.

Canon 1ds Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L USM  @F5.6  1/60th  46mm   ISO 100

 

And I try to remember, like it or not, every stupid thing which comes from my own mouth, is used by those around me to judge my fellow Americans.  The timeless cliché “we’re all ambassadors of our own countries” remains as true today as it did when it was first coined.

Does your culture and/or religion allow wishes?  I have a Christmas wish..

 

Until next time..