Wednesday, July 15, 2009

On Slave Forts, Human Nature, Shakespeare and Evil

I was watching Anderson Cooper last night report on Obama's visit to the slave forts in Cape Coast, Ghana, and have a few comments. As I mentioned before, one of the most breath taking moments for me when I visited there was walking out to the ocean side of the fort and seeing the vast fishing community. It was extraordinarily beautiful. What I realized last night was that probably due to security, no Ghanians were allowed to be in the area. I was disappointed to realize that the fishing scene, that has been part of daily life for centuries there, was not part of Obama's experience.

I was very impressed with Obama's comments on being witness to man's inhumanity to man. I remember when I photographed in the concentration camps and couldn't help but wonder how I would have handled myself if confronted with the choices people were forced to make under Hitler. I could see myself being incredibly challenged on all fronts with more questions left unanswered.

Door of No Return, Ghana

I saw a performance of Macbeth last year and in the playbill, there was a quote from James Baldwin which really resonated.
" We would rather believe that evil comes into the world by means of a single man, can be laid at the door of Another; but Shakeskpeare knew, and all artists know, that evil comes into the world by means of some vast, inexplicable and probably ineradicable human fault. That is to say: the evil is, in some sense, ours. And we help to feed it by failing so often in our own private lives to deal with our own private truth."

1 comment:

Doug said...

So many big thoughts - Obama in Ghana - a soaring moment, the sweeping scar of slavery, being a witness to history thru travel to source sites and the enduring beauty of wonderful photography.

And then you throw Hitler in for good measure. I think there is a demonic urge that moves through the world as there is a divine urge also moving. The balance goes back and forth thru all the levels from the national down to individuals and how each interacts.

This is a world of choices - but I don't really think free in the way we wish it were. When those forces come together with demonic fury like Nazi Germany or across the landscape of slavery, tragedy results like night following day.

When they come together for Good and they often do - humankind and individuals move forward and many things become possible. I believe we're in one of those times now. - DHF