How to explain it? Just this morning I sat reading the brutal and overarching headlines in the newspapers and as I did so, I found myself detecting little things around me I’d taken no real notice of before. Massacre in Kenya, Gunmen Kill Dozens (The weather-worn front windows of our house that face out onto the street, where children were playing); Afghan Insider Attack, 3 Coalition Soldiers Dead (A snapshot of my son taken seven years ago, when he was so full of teen angst, so painfully young); Suicide Attack Kills Scores in Baghdad (My wife’s shoulder length hair, baby-thin now and the color of scratched ice).
Do you know what I’m trying to say? The especially cruel headlines this morning and the stories that followed took every bit of my concentration; for a few cold, hard minutes I was learning some things about the world that I need to know. And yet these very same headlines and stories left me sitting there, feeling even more ineffectual, angry and anxious. And so in a kind of reflexive, maybe defensive way, my mind wandered, to what’s beautiful.
A couple of years ago I was photographing an annual report for a pharmaceutical company and ended up in a hospital in downtown Guatemala City, where I was privileged to witness one of those mostly unnoticed and un-newsworthy events that speak of how giving some people can be. Permit me to share this story with you.