Wednesday, January 04, 2006

My image of how things should be remains pretty simple, people should have food and a (solid) roof over their heads, a chance to go to school, and not be forced to do anything they don't want to do.

I'm aware of the perils of imposing one culture's standard of living upon another, and I'm really not about to go down that path.

And yes, of course acknowledged selfishness (and thus awareness and the ability to take control), is better than noble naivety.

But it still isn't enough for me. I can be pouring gratitude out of every pore as I take my picture and do my interviews, I can think and pray for them every night, and realise how much realise that they are so much better people than I am for letting me turn them into subjects...

Acknowledgement is the first step, of course. It does all those things you said, it keeps you humble, keeps your motives in check, you realise you aren't the matyr riding in on a white horse to save all these people. Of course not.

But then what? And, so what, really?

As I said, the boy in the picture, why would he care that i'm grateful that he let me take this photo?

The only person who feels good about this acknowledgement is ME.

So really, all this comes back to making yourself feel good about what you're doing, satisfying your conscience, alleviating your guilt.

I do actually have a point. I'm not putting journalism down for the sake of doing it. I'm exploring another option, one which seems to be the better thing for me to do, but I'm not sure of myself so I don't feel comfortable talking about it.

Anyway, I'm in no place to judge anyone else by myself. And of course, Ghim is right, we should all choose to change things the way we can. And may I just add, in the best way possible.


alvin said...


Lars said...

A friend of mine at a party was chatting up this girl. She said:

- I want to work for world peace when I grow up.

The attempt at the girls heart ended then and there.

So what you say? Whatever you do is for you. And what you think will remedy someone elses situation, even when you give them exactly what they want, is also for you.

Say you want to help in more practical ways, be mye guest. But the morals of it is not equeal to some sacred cause that will help your ego escape self-loathing.

It's the extremely sharp definitions of the thing I don't like. Like when NGOs in Bangladesh don't want to help child domestic labourers where they are, because they THEMSELVES feel it would indirectly help the employers.

They should get over themselves. Just my opinion.

norman said...

why think so much, just do what you want to do

四海 said...

Guilt is ultimately a self-serving emotion.

what benefits do you get out of feeilng guilty? and i seriously mean, what benefits do you get? Is it to convince yourself that journalism is not for you, and to keep you motivated in pursuing whatever it is you're thinking of doing?

Be careful of the guilt trap. It's a substitute for taking action. I know when I'm feeling guilty, it means I'm putting off making a decision: either to act or not to act.