"The natives are getting restless." Stated in the 1933 film of the H.G. Wells book "The Island of Doctor Moreau." It implies that the indigenous population is about to rise up and attack the people who don't belong there.
A few years ago I was in NYC for a weekend and visited Ground Zero as I have many times. As I left Ground Zero and started to my next destination I came upon this controlled calamity. I hadn't had any thought about the protest in that area until I realized I was witnessing it in real time.
Occupy Wall Street.
Undoubtedly an event that will be written in American history that my grandchildren will read about. I took the opportunity to spend a few minutes snapping a handful of shots despite the fact that I really had no interest in the protest itself. I figured it was worth capturing a little bit of it for my own life history log "I was here when..."
I was shooting film and at the time I wasn't processing my own black and white, so I sent my rolls to the lab to be developed. I got them back and filed them but really didn't pay much attention to those particular shots. I was more interested in the "fun" shots that I took that weekend.
Fast forward to now... I came across them this past week and really looked at them for the first time. And I was taken aback by what I saw. Who are these people? I didn't talk to them. I don't know their names. I don't know their motivations for voicing themselves in protest. Why do they care so much? Why did I take their photo in those moments before I quickly made my way to the nearest Starbucks and went on with my fun?
Looking at them now I realize I was captivated by their quiet intensity They were rising up, maybe not "to attack people who don't belong there" like the quote from H.G. Wells, but they sure as hell were restless. They felt strongly enough about something that they made the decision to act outwardly, with belief that it would make a difference. Each of them from different upbringings. Each of them with different personalities. Each of them with different opinions and belief systems. Some of them leaders, others followers just there to be a part of it. But all of them united together trying to make a difference. I am not speaking only of the protesters, I mean all of those things about the law enforcement that was present as well. Yes they were on duty and doing their job, but their conviction to do that job, founded on their sense of justice and service and the motivations that they have in doing their duty well. I was fascinated by the expression on all sides on such a large scale.
Personal outward expression of our belief system is so powerful that it can influence the hearts of leaders and change the world if used properly, or level cities in acts of war if misunderstood and abused. We have seen such expressions through history and even our present day. There are those who express things with great power in loving ways such as Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela, or great destruction such as Hitler, and in more current day, extremist Muslim Terrorists.
We have a few very short years to be alive. How will we spend them expressing what is important to us? Every assembly with a message is simply made of individuals who are expressing themselves on a personal level. Will we be mindful of our actions and our power of expression so that goodness may abound? I believe it is possible.