I’m sure that many of you have seen the photographs up in the Lyceum Gallery by now, of the young Syrian ballerinas. I took those pictures almost a year ago, one year into the ongoing civil war in Syria. One of the things I hoped these photographs would do is to show a different side of war and revolution. When we see pictures of Syria these days, like pictures from Iraq or Afghanistan or the Congo or Somalia, or any other country where there is war or ongoing violence, they all tend to be pretty similar. They’re usually of men, with weapons, on tanks, maybe in military uniform, maybe fighting, tired, dirty, tough. I was really struck when the Arab Spring began, the extent to which I would see pictures from Libya - or Egypt, or other Arab Spring countries - and they looked just like pictures from Iraq or Afghanistan or Lebanon. It felt like you could just use the same photograph and change the caption and no one would know the difference. I couldn’t actually learn anything about Libya by looking at them - there was nothing specific, no real humanity, no personality, no individuality, no real life to them. Really, it was unclear to me what the point was.
And the same thing happens in other areas of photojournalism too. Pictures of poverty, especially third world poverty, often look nearly identical too. If you look at pictures of Haiti, the Congo, South Africa, they seem interchangeable. They’re close up portraits of poor black usually children, with bright colored dresses that are torn and dirty, big eyes in serious faces. People’s lives seem to be defined by simply being poor - there’s nothing else to who they are. How many people here have been to a third world country, in south America, Asia, Africa, the Middle East? And in your experience, did the people you meet there, the lives you saw, seem to be defined just by being poor? When I graduated from Derryfield, I took a year off before college. And the first thing I did was go to Ghana, to a tiny rural village, to teach English. And people were very poor there, not surprisingly. Some lived in mud huts, some lived in tiny concrete houses, no one had running water or real electricity. But they didn’t just sit around being poor or suffering. They had real lives. They had friends and enemies and rivalries and least favorite sisters and annoying uncles and they fun and laughs and sadness too, but they lived complete lives, they were real people. And that’s something I rarely see in photographs from Ghana, or much of the developing world, and certainly not of conflict situations.
Partly the problem is the structure of photojournalism. It’s a pretty glamorous world, or at least our image of it is. We see these rugged, handsome, young (usually male) photographers jetting all over the world. They’re brave, they’re adventurous - it’s all very sexy. And we really idealize this cowboy photographer, but the problem is that most of them have no real relationship to the countries they’re reporting on. They might show up in Somalia for a week, stay at expensive hotels with other Americans, do a couple interviews, with a translator, because they don’t really speak the local languages, and it’s not surprising that they come back with a bunch of clichés. They’re really dramatic, beautiful, visual clichés, but there’s not a lot of substance. And then the next week in they’re on to Uganda, and the week after El Salvador, then Haiti, then Pakistan.
When the revolution began in Syria, I had already been living there for almost four years. And living in a small, normal, middle-class Syrian town, I was able to see a very different side of war than most foreigners ever get to see, or than I would have seen had I sought it out. I had worked as a photographer in Iraq before, a few times, starting in 2007, so I had seen before the very masculine, public face of war - soldiers, weapons, house raids, prisons, that kind of thing. But I didn’t really know much about Iraq. I spoke Arabic, and that did give me the ability to dig a little deeper than the most superficial level, but even language isn’t enough. On my second trip to Iraq, I was embedded with the US military, which meant that I stayed with American soldiers on their bases and basically went around with them and took photographs of whatever they were doing. I was staying on a base in Mahmoudiya, in a part of Iraq that used to be called “the triangle of death” because there was so much violence there, and the soldiers were going on house raids, in the middle of the night, looking for certain wanted fighters or insurgents. So they would show up at these apartment buildings, in the dark, with at least ten soldiers at a time, American and Iraqi soldiers, and they’d bang on the doors and come into the houses to search them. And I felt really uncomfortable being part of that. First of all, I had no idea what I was doing. I had been living in Syria, studying Arabic, working at an insane asylum, and a friend of mine, who was a journalist, who worked a lot in Iraq, was going back there and he needed a photographer. I’d taken a photography class at Derryfield, and I guess I’d mentioned it, and he asked if I wanted to go along. So I did. I didn’t even have a camera then. I borrowed one. And it was way fancier than anything I’d used before, I remember on that first night of house raids, I accidentally knocked the setting on the camera so it was on a fifteen second delay - you know like when you’re taking a picture with your family and you set the camera up across the room and you all get in a line and pose and then it takes the photo? Well I knocked it onto fifteen second delay, so throughout this house raid - it’s dramatic, a little chaotic, a little scary - because it’s all happening in the dark, too, remember - and I would take a picture, press the shutter, lower the camera again, and then fifteen seconds later, it would take a picture of the floor, as the camera’s hanging from my shoulder. I apparently did that all night. But even beyond my camera troubles, I was never sure what to do on the house raids. I wasn’t a soldier - why should I barge into someone’s house in the middle of the night? Whether or not we think the soldiers themselves have the right is a whole another question, but I certainly had no claims to a legitimate purpose for being there.
People were frightened, angry, as you would be if the army burst into your house in the night. Also, in the Middle East, people don’t wear shoes inside their homes, and it’s really rude to do so, and I’d want to stop and take off my shoes before going in, kind of out of habit, but of course that wasn’t really reasonable either, as it was all sort of chaotic and nervous, the soldiers were nervous, they never knew if they would knock on the door and find a guy waiting with a machine gun on the other side, and I didn’t want these American soldiers to feel like I was burden to them, like they’d have to stop and wait next to me to make sure nothing happened while I unlaced my shoes. So instead, I’d say the family, in Arabic, I’m a photojournalist, I’m not with the army, I’m here to document the war, is it okay if I come in? And often they would be very welcoming. They thought that if a photographer was present, the soldiers would be less likely to trash their houses, or beat them up, and that may be true. At one point when I was in Mosul, later on, on a house raid, one soldier started getting a little carried away, a little physical with a man in the house, just, in his face a little, sort of pushing him, and his commander basically said to him, stop, there are reporters here. So I felt like I was doing something ethical, not even really for the content of my photos, which were pretty mediocre even when they weren’t of the carpet, but by being present, by being a witness.
But my experience in Iraq was overall pretty superficial. I like to think I learned about some specific issues or places or people, but I really never saw beyond the guns, the fighting, to what everyday life looked like. And I never knew Iraq before the war, so I had no sense of just how Iraqis’ lives had changed, how much they had lost, what made their lives meaningful.
But it was different for me in Syria. I had been there. And the war crept up on us, at least in Sahnaya, my little town, slowly. It began with peaceful demonstrations in the street in cities on the other side of the country. Even when this movement for freedom and democracy became a self-declared revolution, and even when the government settled into a routine policy of violent repression, it was far away from Sahnaya. It came closer over the course of the first year, and still the second year - it still hasn’t arrived to Sahnaya, not, at least, in terms of tanks in the streets and shelling and bombing. We did feel the revolution happening, but in more subtle, material, everyday ways.
It started with the crazily fluctuating currency. The government rate of exchange held steady, with 50 Syria lira worth about one dollar. And that didn’t change for months and months. But on the black market, it actually reached the point where one dollar was worth 100 Syria lira. And suddenly Syrians who still weren’t affected by the violence, realized their life savings were worth half of what they had been. And buying groceries for dinner, buying of a cup of coffee, cost twice of what it used to.
The currency fluctuations were followed soon after by shortages. In the beginning, it was very specific food items that we couldn’t get - whatever was normally produced by the regions where the fighting was. Sometimes that was tomatoes, sometimes it was oranges, but it was these isolated items and never a huge deal. But then, as the revolution spread throughout the country, food in general became harder to get. Combined with the devalued currency, you’d pay a small fortune for a handful of rubbery, floppy cucumbers. And heating oil became hard to get, and cooking gas. So when winter came, houses were pretty cold. It was 40 degrees in my living room at one point, and I was lucky enough to at least have shelter, whereas many Syrians were displaced from their homes by the fighting, living in makeshift structures of tin and wood and whatever they could find. Electricity also started to come more sporadically. For awhile we would have four hours on, four hours off, though later the power cuts could stretch eight or twelve hours. It was a really cold, dark winter last year, when I was there, and it’s the same again this year, though in a lot of ways worse, because a lot of people have gone almost two years now without working, living as internal refugees, and they can barely afford bread now.
For me, the experience of war in Syria has in fact been the opposite of my experience in Iraq. There is some fighting in my neighborhood now - shooting at night, or occasionally in the day - but mostly it’s not violent. And I haven’t gone out in search of that violence elsewhere. When I would take the bus to Damascus, which is only a few miles away, although with traffic and all the checkpoints now on the road, it can take two or three hours, I’d drive through a lot of neighborhoods and towns that were centers of fighting, and you could see members of the security services - basically secret police - lined up along the highways, and cars and buses completely burnt out, or stacks of tires on fire, and it was strange because I’d pass through into central Damascus, which was still largely safe too, and then on the way, back to fairly safe Sahnaya. But I never went to Deraa or Homs or Aleppo, where the real fighting was taking place, because, well, I don’t really want to get shot or anything, and I had no good reason to. I wouldn’t have made it, anyways, I would have been turned around at the first checkpoint, but I felt like I had nothing to offer a city like Homs. What could I do, even if I made it there? Take some pictures of men with guns, or wounded children covered in blood? The kind of pictures I saw from Libya, that didn’t really show anything about who these people were and what their lives were like? It wasn’t a situation like in Vietnam, during the Vietnam War, where these photographs would come back from the war, and the public would be exposed to atrocities they didn’t really know existed. The photographs during the Vietnam War were evidence. And they did affect public opinion. But in Syria, we knew terrible things were happening. And we saw pictures - Syrians themselves were taking pictures and video on their cell phones, posting it online. I had nothing to offer there.
But in Sahnaya, I thought I could do something different. And I could certainly learn something. And I did, every day. I saw people trying to keep their lives together, trying to make rational decisions in a situation that was anything but rational. And it’s easy, now, now that Syria has descended into a pretty awful and comprehensive civil war, to feel like that was always going to be its trajectory, but nobody in the beginning. We weren’t sure if there were going to be a few peaceful protests, followed by government reforms. We weren’t sure if the government’s violent crackdown would actually finish the movement. And people had to make decisions based on so little information.
And being there, seeing people try to continue to live meaningful lives, which often meant simply ignoring or denying the revolution, which felt really strange to me, helicopters and jets would be flying overhead and if you asked someone “what was that?” they would say “what? What was what?” like it hadn’t even happened, but I realized, what were they supposed to do? And for me, the lesson was about opening my eyes to the world around me. I think that we’re often drawn to run off in search of the exotic - I mean, I fled to Ghana, then Spain, then Syria and Iraq - and I think culturally we really value and legitimize that, but often the most interesting places and people and phenomena are close by. They’re the things we’re so used to we don’t see anymore. I think that’s where we can learn the most about our world, and people, and the crazy things we do - not just by seeking out wars and famines and these really alluring (journalistically at least) crisis situations, but by taking photographs of our neighbors, figuring out what makes their lives meaningful, or trying to understand our own culture. For me, it was a slow and often clumsy process of trying to actually see and hear what’s happening around.
And one of the things I learned in Syria is that while war and violence do often bring out the worst in human nature, our basest, cruelest inclinations - the kinds of things we see relentlessly in the media -it often produces great heroism. At first, when the war began in Syria, I felt really bleak about humanity. Without getting too graphic here, I couldn’t imagine living in a world at all where people did the kind of horrible, violent things they were doing in Syria. I’d hear stories about torture, from people I knew, and I think I don’t be a person if this is what being a person can mean.
But I realized that although the violent actions had perhaps greater consequences than the kind or generous and peaceful ones, and they were certainly more public, many people in Syria were demonstrating a kind of bravery, daring, generosity, that I could never have imagined or aspired to myself. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been displaced from their homes, from the fighting, and other Syrians, also poor, also struggling to afford even bread or water, take them into their homes. Young activists, teenagers, risk their lives to smuggle medicine to besieged cities where people are dying from very treatable wounds and illness because they have nothing. People give up everything - all their savings, their homes, their families, and they risk not just being killed but being arrested and tortured horribly - for these ideas, ideas that they’ve never even experienced, they can only have dreamt about - freedom, democracy, human rights.
One of the young revolutionaries, actually from my neighborhood, who started organizing peaceful protests very early on and kept up his work until he was arrested a few months ago, is one of the most relentlessly cheerful, happy, optimistic people I’ve ever met. No matter how many people are killed every day, or whatever setbacks the revolution suffers, he truly believes he is changing his world for the better. And it’s not that his happiness is somehow false, that it’s easier for him because he isn’t actually fighting, isn’t sacrificing, because he is, he’s taking huge risks, and the last time any one saw him he was in prison, suffering awful abuse. But he’s willing to risk anything, everything, for his principles. How many of us could say that? How many of us even know somebody like that? I can’t think of anything that I truly believe in enough that I would die for it, that I would be tortured for it, that I would sacrifice my family for it. We talk about our ideals all the time in this country - freedom, liberty, democracy - they actually sound a lot like the same ideals Syrians are talking about now.
But we don’t sacrifice for them. How many of the real environmentalists in this room would actually be willing to give up their cars, or heating their houses, because that’s what it will take to save the environment. How many of the human rights activists in this room would be willing to spend the rest of their lives in prison, in awful conditions, suffering terrible abuse, if it meant a hundred other political prisoners could go free? And that’s nothing compared to what Syrians are sacrificing every day. That same friend, the optimist, told me that I, as an American, could never understand what freedom really feels like because I was born into it, so I could never understand it’s absence, what it feels like to be free for the first time in your life. He said he felt that, standing in a crowd of peaceful demonstrators, for the first time demanding his rights, demanding to have a say in his own life, holding his government responsible. And so despite the horrors and the fears and the truly relentless depression that comes from seeing Syria, a country that I love, a country that I thought had become home for me, slip into the same mistakes we’ve seen in Iraq and Lebanon and much of the middle east - sectarianism, civil war, seeing the president become not the reformer he might have been, that people thought he might be, but instead a brutal tyrant of the kind that has dominated the region for decades - despite all of that, there is something completely inspiring about seeing people, individuals, normal every day people, salesman and grocers and painters and housewives, becoming heroes.
And what I learned about photography is that it’s not good enough. It is, perhaps, meaningless. When was the last time a photograph changed the world? It didn’t, or at least not lately. Art, art photography, may be different - because I do think art that has a place in our society, in challenging our thinking, in reminding us of our humanity. But photojournalism, which profits off of other people’s suffering, does not. The best photographs from Syria, the most important, the most shocking, the ones with the most potential to inspire us to action, were not taken by professional photographers. We’ve seen those, they’re slick and sickly beautiful, they make us want people to get shot just so we can see the incredible look of pain on their faces, but the others are taken by Syrians themselves, on their cell phones, of their family members, of their lives. We don’t need professional photographers in war zones. Syrians don’t need photojournalists.
They need doctors. They need people to distribute blankets. They need money. They need medicine. I’m skeptical, I’m especially skeptical, of these photojournalists that say they go to Syria - or the Congo, or Libya, or Afghanistan -- because of the horror, to bring to light these awful things. Because these foreign photographers can only know about these awful things because they’ve already been brought to light, some one else has already brought them to light. If they wanted to help, they’d join doctors without borders. They’d become politicians, go into public service, make the kind of the decisions that mean these wars don’t happen in the first place. They wouldn’t wait around salivating, for the next conflict, where they can rush in, make a bundle of money - a lot like arms dealers, really - find ways to enjoy really other peoples suffering.
For a lot of people in this room, a conversation about photojournalism and its limitations and failures may seem kind of tangential or irrelevant. More interesting, perhaps, to those of you who take photographs, and are considering careers one day in photography or journalism. But these images, and not just pictures, although that’s the only medium with which I have real experience, but video too, and the written reporting we read about conflicts, is important for all of us to consider critically because we’re all implicated in it. By watching it, reading it, we’re part of it. We’re part of the demand for it. We’re part of what makes sure that people get paid to go take these pictures. We haven’t publically recoiled in ethical disgust - instead, we reward these photographers, not only financially, but with public prestige.
There was a picture from Iraq last year, taken by Ayman Oghanna, an up and coming young photographer, one of a new generation of hot, super dramatic, tilted horizon, oversaturated color photojournalists, the picture was taken for the New York Times, and it shows a little girl after a car bomb in which both of her parents were killed, walking towards the camera, reaching out, a look of devastation on her face. And I looked at that photograph for a long time, trying to figure out what could make a person, a human being, seeing a child covered in her own parents’ blood, reaching out, for help, in absolute desperation, take a photograph, rather than rushing to her, helping her, comforting her, bringing her to a hospital, anything at all. And how is that different from setting off a car bomb in the first place? This kind of photography dehumanizes the people it depicts, and it dehumanizes the photographer too, and it dehumanizes us, the consumer. What are we supposed to do, encountering ten or twenty pictures of awful human suffering every morning, over breakfast? What does that do to us, as ethical human beings? There was a very famous picture, by a photographer named Kevin Carter, of a starving little in girl in Sudan, all ribs and tiny limbs, during a famine there, and she has fallen to the ground, and vulture is waiting behind her. And Kevin Carter won a lot of awards for that photographer, but he was also criticized. People said it’s a good photo, but what did you do? He said I didn’t do anything, I took picture. And people were outraged that he didn’t help this girl, didn’t intervene. But the problem is, we occasionally find these scapegoats, like Kevin Carter, and by criticizing them, by pointing out why they’re unethical, we’re able to ignore and gloss over our own participation in these constant ethical violations.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be an ethical person, especially since the Syrian revolution began. I like to consider myself an ethical and principled person. I believe that we should all have a say in our lives. I believe that we should be able to live without fear. But I didn’t what my role was supposed to be, in Syria. Should I go join the protestors? But it’s not my country - who am I to tell Syrians how to live their lives? Or is that a lie, because we live in an interconnected world, in which everything I do affects Syrians, and Indians, and Mexicans, just as their lives have effects beyond their national borders.
We have these great abstract discussions, in schools and universities, about ethics, which I think are supposed to help in situations like these, when revolutions erupt and you have to make choices. In these ethics classes, philosophy class, we talk about things like: what would you do if you were in a rowboat starving to death with several other people - would you draw straws and eat one of the other people? And what kind of question is that? And its actually easy to argue either point of few. But the point is, most of us go through our lives without having to make those decisions, because were not stuck in the rowboat, and we don’t have to eat people.
When the revolution started in Syria, I was writing a novel. I’d get up every day and sit at my desk and write and go for a walk in the afternoon maybe, eat an ice cream, go for picnics sometimes, and you could hear the shelling of nearby towns, and shooting, and I’d wonder what I should do. How could I sit and write fiction all day when people nearby were being slaughtered for their principles? It’s not as if this was all happening 10,000 miles away. It was ten minutes away. Eventually, after much angst and self-loathing, I decided the only ethical thing to do was pick up a weapon and join the rebels. That’s when I learned I was a coward. And in fact I later decided that there are perhaps other ways of being in Syria ethically at this time, and that I probably shouldn’t join the rebels, although sometimes I still don’t know whether I’m just making excuses for myself. On the one hand - I do believe in the principles for which the Syrian rebels are fighting. I believe they should be able to vote, to choose their own leaders, to have a say in their lives. I believe they shouldn’t be randomly arrested and tortured in jail. I believe they should be able to criticize their government, without risk of physical harm. And how I often do we get an opportunity to actually fight for these beliefs? I think a lot of us secretly harbor a fantasy that given the opportunity, we’d be Che Guevara too. And here was my chance. On the other hand, I don’t know how to shoot a gun, so probably wouldn’t be so useful. I’d get shot and killed pretty fast, and that would be that. Also, by having an American with them, the rebels would be accused of promoting a Western agenda, rather than what Syrians really want. And I still didn’t resolve my own place in Syria, because I’m not Syrian, these aren’t my rights I’d be fighting for, but I am human being, and to what extent does that matter more than my national citizenship?
The other thing that I came to realize about ethics, is that we’re always in the rowboat, and we shouldn’t lie to ourselves about it. The situation in Syria felt to me like this pressing ethical crisis, but we should be having these crises every day. Suffering exists in our world, and we can do something about it, and not to, is unethical, even if it’s easy not to, even if that suffering is pretty abstract and kind of far away and easy to ignore.
We all, or at least I bet all of our parents, read the New York Times each day or each week, and we read Nicholas Kristoff’s columns. He writes about impoverished reservations for Native Americans, or sex slavery in Cambodia, sweat shops, human rights abuses, these terrible things happening in the world, and often he writes about people or organizations doing things to try to eliminate these injustices.
And sometimes, the more altruistic among us, send some money perhaps. I bet you all here have organized a few fundraisers for some good causes, maybe an animal shelter, or Sandy relief, or you volunteer at the local food bank once a year or something, a nursing home maybe, and that’s fine, maybe it’s even good, okay, in the short term, I’m sure a poor African child would rather have your donated t-shirt than not, but the danger is that it allows us to feel good about ourselves, to feel like we are ethical, moral people, without having to actually make real ethical choices, and sacrifices, without recognizing that by admiring Ayman Oghanna’s photo of that traumatized Iraqi girl we’re making sure those photographs continue to be taken, and that by buying cheap t-shirts, and given two options buying the cheaper one, we guarantee that sweatshops keep paying abhorrent wages, through the food we eat and the cars we drive and the long, wasteful showers we take we make to keep a large perception of the world’s population in poverty, in sickness, in violence.
For me, the jarring recognition was that photojournalism does that too, it makes us - and I include myself here, as an occasional and self-loathing photojournalist - feel good too, like we’ve done our part; it’s our excuse not to be held morally responsible, not to hold ourselves to higher moral standard. And it is inexcusable, unforgiveable.
We are all implicated in everything that happens in the world. It is the great promise and the great burden of our generation. We live in a globalized world. What I eat matters to the environment, what I wear matters to the Bangladeshi worker. If I want people at Walmart or in Indonesian sweat shops to earn a fair wage, then I have to pay more for my iPad. If I want the oceans to last another couple generations, I should probably stop eating fish, and stop buying products made by companies that pollute the ocean. It’s kind of simple logic, really, but it’s an ethics that demand constant awareness and action, and real sacrifice. It’s both incredibly empowering, and challenging. Our ethical work is never done, we can never be lazy about it, we can never stop be conscious of how our own actions maintain the systems of oppression that limit other people’s lives. We’ve seen this with language, a lot. Right? Every time in an essay I use the “he” where I really mean “he or she”, I help create a socio-political system that maintains women’s domination by men. So I don’t. I carefully say he or she. Or if I’m really subversive, I just say she. These seem like small things, and they are, but it’s these details, these careful, conscious, constant choices that will change the world. More than my running off (or, in the end, not running off) to join the Syrian rebels, I can make a much bigger impact on the world by not eating meat, or only eating animals that were raised in humane conditions, and by only buying clothes that were produced in similarly humane conditions, or, and this harder, and far more significant, refusing to buy clothes at all, to participate in a capitalist world system that promotes self-interest and individual profit as its primary moral values (which are not my moral values), but instead learning to sew - which I have - and sewing my own clothes, and perhaps I should start growing my own food too. And the thing is, not taking action is the same as taking action. It is an action itself. It is choosing to pollute the oceans, choosing to force third world workers to live in poverty, to die of curable diseases, it is choosing to support political oppression and torture. We live in an amazing world, different than ever before, more connected than ever before, and therefore more demanding of us. We have to learn how to live up to that challenge.
Which all probably deviates pretty far from those little Syrian ballerinas upstairs, but they reminded me that we all live our lives, go about our daily business, thoroughly enmeshed in, shaped by, the world, and we too shape that world. I don’t have any answers, and I strive to be more ethical and often fail, but the idea I wanted to leave you with today, a perspective to take with you when you do pass through the gallery upstairs and look at the photographs, and maybe when you look at photographs in general, is that whomever the subject is, we are implicated in their lives.
Mr. Moerlein asked me to come talk about my path from Derryfield to Ghana then to Brown then to Syria and now Oxford, but it’s kind of a boring story and it happened kind of accidentally, just by saying yes to everything, actually, and I don’t want to claim that I had too much say in the matter, to take too much credit for anything good that may have come of these adventures, which I was just lucky enough to be able to have. From me that path from Derryfield to Oxford was basically one of dissatisfaction. It’s about asking how to be an ethical person in the world, and finding one unsatisfying answer after another. Which lead me through photography, though not as ending point, but as part of the process of learning. There’s this idea in Islam of Shari’a, which we often see translated as Islamic law, and it has to do with living the right way, according to divine will. And this great Islamic scholar, Khalid Abou El Fadel, describes Shari’a as the constant search for Shari’a. So it’s not a set of rules, about not eating pork and wearing the veil and praying five times a day, but about constant awareness, constant striving to live better. And I think that’s a useful framework for all of us, thinking about ethics in general and its constant demands. And so I wanted to come here today to present these photos to you, not as a claim to any kind of truth, not as an answer, but as a question, an ethical question, about how we all can live meaningfully in this world together.
- Emma LeBlanc '05