I was going to do a Part II post of our trip to The Met Breuer, but I’m going to do a bit of navel gazing instead. I’ll use a couple of the photos I took for something else that’s been on my mind. Recently I’ve heard and seen quite a few people referencing the concept of “fundamentally good.” As in, human beings are fundamentally good, love conquers all, good always triumphs over evil, etc. On both small (personal) and large (nations, international) scales. I’m…not so sure of that. Not saying human beings are fundamentally evil, or “bad,” but fundamentally flawed? Maybe. Look at a close up of the face from this painting, close to 500 years old:
Do you recognize it? That stare has been all over the news recently. Here. And it’s been here. Without war, here. No stare, but a story that’s yet to end here. I could go on, find 50 more examples without effort, but you get the point. I know I could just as easily find photos of hope and affirmation, and that’s why I don’t believe we’re fundamentally evil. But flawed? Yes.
As I type, there are about 1300 people, asylum seekers, including 50 children, being held in detention sites off the coast of Australia, in Nauru and Manus Island. Naturally, many horrific photos have recently come out of there. Crimes against humanity. Feeling smug, Americans? Don’t. And a little history.
A few months back, Donald Trump said he could look Syrian children (refugees) in the face and tell them they can’t come here. Because safety. And possibility, and terrorists. I’m certain I’ve read this story before. Oh gee, Trump has no compassion for others but a hyuuuuge sense of otherness. Yawn. Trump, his beliefs, his greed, not the issue. The issue is how many, and how many in positions of power and authority, support him and his ideas. How many voted for him, and will vote for him in November.
Is this current election cycle truly shocking, when we pull our heads out of the sand and look at history, both recent and ancient? Is the photo of 5 year old Omran Daqneesh (the little boy in the first link) truly shocking? Is it shocking to see the headlines about last week’s disastrous flooding in Louisiana are focused on which politicians (and political wannabes) have gone to visit and when, whether or not the displaced are getting first page coverage or third?
It is our human flaws that allow these things to occur. It is our human flaws that make us interesting. It is our human flaws that prompt us to strive for more, for better. But it’s our denial of these fundamental flaws, our insistence on not only closing our eyes but obscuring our vision and differences that keep us stuck, repeating history.