posted on Aug, 3 2009 @ 03:00 PM
The problem is that everything depends on how you define "iconic". Choose photos from battles and wars, and you get one image. Choose photos from
other events - say, the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, you may get a completely different image. Randomly choose images from the Internet and
you'll get a mixture of porn and LOL cats.
If you're looking to bash humanity for being war-like and cruel, we've got plenty of photos to prove it - wars since the American Civil War.
Genocide, atrocities, lynchings, murders, you name it. But that overlooks all the stuff people do that has nothing to do with war - all the kindness,
love, goodwill shown every day throughout the world. It overlooks the beautiful works of art, architecture, music, sculpture, the efforts to heal, to
build, to renew. It skips on the images of us working to undo and correct the mistakes we have made. Those don't show up well in images - you see
Congress sitting in session, trying to come up with fair laws. Not very dramatic there, no iconic photo for us.
We miss most of the individual acts of heroism that take place every day. Not much drama in that, unless someone sweeps a child out of the way of an
oncoming train. But what about the teachers and parents who struggle each day to help their kids grow up healthy and honest in a world that makes it
increasingly difficult? What about the single parents who work two or more jobs and still try to be good parents to their children? The adult
children, caring for their aged, infirm parents? The older kids caring for their younger brothers and sisters when their parents aren't available or
functional? The response of people to disasters, natural and man-made, sending in food, medical supplies, and other help? The countless acts of
kindness, goodness, helpfulness, courage, strength, shown by billions of people every single day? Not so iconic, but no less important.
The problem with the "iconic" photos is that they were in the news. The news focuses almost exclusively on drama and *bad* news - wars, famines,
disasters, and other horrors. That's what sells papers and air time. We lost 3000 people to 911. That same year we lost over a million to heart
disease and other preventable illnesses, but not a peep out of the news about that. Not dramatic enough, not enough horror.
If you look only to the news for our "iconic" images, you'll always come away with a highly negative view of humanity. That's what the news does,
it focuses on the horror, the outrage, the drama, the fear. This is an incomplete view, and I say it is also a severely warped view. Yes, we have
all that in us, the capacity to be cruel almost beyond imagination, to commit the worst atrocities, to butcher, to slaughter. But that's not *all*
we are. That's only a part of the story, and I say it's not the most common part. It's the part we most desperately need to fix, agreed. The
news does us a service by reminding us that we still need to fix what's wrong. But it harms us when it ignores all the things we're doing, every
day, that try to fight against the violence and hatred.
If you're going to try to show what humanity is like, then show the whole story, not just the parts that are shameful and negative. This will be a
challenge, because most of the noble acts don't get recorded. They're usually quiet, private acts between two people, nothing the news would
report, nothing a photograph could show very well. Well, the exist, and I say they are the bulk of what makes us human.