I recently learned of something called “Wicked World Syndrome.” Essentially, we are inundated with images of negativity, violence, and hopelessness until we come to the conclusion that the world is beyond repair. There is definitely some merit to this idea. And as a dedicated cynic I have certainly done my part in contributing to hopelessness. I maintain that realism is a necessity and sometimes reality is downright shitty. But perhaps there is an imbalance.
I was looking through old photos from my trips and there is a greater volume of photography depicting suffering and sorrow. I know what my thought was at the time. I figured showing the suffering would move others to action. Perhaps in some cases it did. In some cases it may have pushed people to paralysis. “It’s hopeless. What can be done?” But the balance is lacking in my depiction. I experience endless positivity in these humanitarian endeavors. It’s time to show that there is nothing hopeless about the world. It is not a wicked place, innately, as some reductionist ideologies (i.e. original sin) would have you believe. The world is a place of balance. There is profound good, profound bad, and everything in between. But most of all, there is continuity. Despite the superficial differences and changes in context, kids are kids everywhere you go, people are full of hope and fear. And like gravity, a constant that can always be counted on is that things change. It’s up to all of us to determine that course.
We leave for Haiti on Saturday at midnight to finish the clinic. Whatever time I have to take photos, I will make sure to focus on the clear signs of hope in Haiti, the indications that the world is not only wicked and hopeless, but beautiful and resilient at the exact same time. If for no one else, I need to do it for myself. Change the perspective of this aging cynic before it’s too late.
The photo above is the one that reminded me that I might not be doing the Haitian and Human spirit justice with my work. I actually smiled, spontaneously, when I saw it. No small feat during a 4-exam week that felt like it would never end.