If you want to know what’s important to you, notice what you photograph. We take photos to memorialize people and events: pictures of family, friends, achievements, celebrations, holidays, work, travel, pets, home, art, and nature. We take photos to remind us of what’s meaningful in our lives, and although I hadn’t thought about it until this Memorial Day holiday, our photos create visual memories of the Four Freedoms President Franklin D. Roosevelt talked about when he said, ”People everywhere in the world ought to enjoy: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.”
Throughout time we've had to fight for freedom. Photos of heroes like my cousin Abe remind us of their stories and memorialize our gratitude for their hard-fought victory.
No war guarantees enduring peace. Instead of learning to celebrate our differences so we can live in harmony, people throughout the world deride the very distinctions that make us special. Each of us, no matter where we live, is born with unique genetics. Our families give us a name, a nationality, a race, and a religion. These labels are not who we are, yet history shows that we fight to defend this fictional identity. Each time peace is shattered, we ask the same question,
“Does it make sense to fight violence with violence?”
Yet it seems to be human nature to retaliate in kind. My parents have a photo of me when I was four years old, raising my hand to hit a friend. I remember justifying my action saying "She hit me first” as if another person's irrational act condones repeating it. Unfortunately this strategy only escalates conflict. Mahatma Gandhi said it this way,
“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”
We are reminded of this too often by terrorist acts that defy logic. With all our advancements in communication, psychology, negotiation, science, and technology, we haven't figured out how to eliminate violence. Howard Zinn asks,
“How can you have a war on terrorism, when war itself is terrorism?”
Perhaps this generation has an answer. Malala Yousafzai lived under the restrictive rule of the Taliban in Pakistan. Militants shot her in the head, determined to silence her as she claimed the right for girls to be educated. After many surgeries she recovered — stronger in her commitment to empower girls to become confident leaders in their own countries.
Here you see a photo of her on her 16th birthday when she spoke at the United Nations. Later that same year she published her autobiography titled, "I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban." Malala believes that,
"With guns, you can kill terrorists, with education you can kill terrorism."
Liberty is a sacred gift we cannot take for granted. Let's celebrate our veterans and those who serve to protect our freedoms. Thank you cousin Abe and heroes like you for your valor in war. We honor you. And we honor Malala and heroes like her who direct their fighting energy into creative programs with productive outcomes.
We take photos to remind us of what’s meaningful in our lives. The pictures create visual memories of our values and the ways we enjoy the Four Freedoms President Franklin D. Roosevelt talked about: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.
How do we make freedom lasting for us and for the rest of the world?
By pursuing all possibilities — all of the time.