21 June 2008

War and peace know no borders.

What is a balloon? What is a photograph? We make them, add our thoughts and wishes and let them go into the sky.....These images were from the Peace March of the local school in Casas Grandes in April just before I returned North. Spencer called me to let me know and I ran out of the house with my apron on and camera in hand barely making it as the children,teacheres and parents rounded the corner. An ocean of whiteness and beautiful brown faces; Everyone dressed in white; It was a one of the most beautiful acts for peace I ever witnessed. All the balloons were wishes for peace to return to our community.Our world. At a given moment all the balloons were either popped or released. A few wishes for a different world rose upward making a constellation of dots and disappeared into blue. When I feel overwhelmed with my thoughts on these issues I think about these children and the hope for a more peaceful future.

Sad but true I can not deny the truth of what's happening along the US|MEXICAN Border; I feel the weight of it in my community, the place that has become my heaven on earth, and is the place I tell people I've come to know the finest examples of how to be human beings; I am constantly in awe of the "Familias", the beauty, the love I see everyday; The trust given to me whether photographing or just being offered to hold a strangers beautiful baby; The way I love and feel for the people of my pueblo.

The world is being rocked by violence; still. The drug wars continue and the world still isn't safer or better after all these years of the War on Drugs; Good GOD! What are is happening? I have chosen to not photograph aspects of this WAR...because I want to show something different-that is LIFE affirming, beautiful, and not stereotypical. I do not want to bring attention to myself from the good bad guys, or the bad good guys; I have seen in these past few months more funerals in my town...the last one over a thousand people came and lined the street with cars and everyday people mourning the death of someone's beloved who was shot down. He came from my pueblo and was said to help many people; I can say that I saw he was loved greatly by the community. So I comfort those brothers, and young homies, and older sisters,and mothers, who do not understand this war...I can empathize with their loss; I offer only my consulations, a hug, a soft touch on the arm...Loss, and death is a universal emotion, whether violent, accidental or natural. We suffer in the living and are at the mercy of the unknown. I begin to ask myself do I photograph this now?? Is it my story to tell ? My reasons to avoid shooting it are obvious and yet it is essential; So when my dear friend Jason who helped me move to Casas Grandes last year sends me this link he stumbled across I had to pause and see my beloved world through another set of eyes; This is a powerful moving set of photographs like none other I've seen;I feel compelled to share the work and this aspect of the power and truth of photography and why we need courageous photographers who tell us these stories.

Seamus Murphy: Mexican Frontier town falls to Drug Lords

We live on; Life in Casas Grandes continues; We get news from those who come to visit, or who change their plans to stay away because Mexico is "dangerous" and people are afraid; Yet it is pastoral, it is a simple and good life I've come to know, and I have only encountered kindness....the rumors fly around; and partial stories unfold to much of our disbelief; I just know that once I pass the zone I am in the land that has captivated and inspired me; I am still in love with this country and the people here. I have avoided telling this part of the story. I think of all the images we're inundated with; are there really more people in the world who want to know what Britney Spears is wearing and her sad family life? I think of the Minutemen on the border, I think of men,fathers and sons crossing the desert for a job in the USA .I think of wildfires in California burning and polar bears dying; I think of all the money being spent to 'keep us safe" as more sky scrapers and indoor ski resorts are built in Dubai, and gas prices go up and up.... What in the helk IS Going ON????

So there are photographers and writers who hold a mirror and show us something more about ourselves and our world;
Why these images/stories aren't on the main yahoo page and Jessica Simpson and American Idol are, leaves me shaking my head in wonder. No wonder the world goes numb.

Photographers and writers are my heros because they inspire me to wake up ! To see the pain, the suffering, the beauty and the common threads between people; When you SEE truth how can you close your eyes?? Revisiting these photogrpahers work
give me courage to look deeper. Does the work of these amazing human beings make a difference in a world gone mad?? Does it matter? Do you stop taking photos or telling stories that are important? No. You go out and do your work; follow those lines that life leads you to; Where will the lines of my own work lead me? What will I see the next time I cross the borderlands?

Ojala Quiere y volver.... If GOD wants I will return.....

Susan Miesalas
James Nachtwey
award winning essay by Seamus Murphy: "AFGHANISTAN'S SEARCH FOR PEACE"

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