Protest. Peace. Progress.

This past week we took a family trip to Washington DC. As a lover of American history and a self proclaimed President groupie, it is a city I have always wanted to visit. Coincidentally, there was a lot going on on Capitol Hill with the Judge Brett Kavanaugh hearing. I have been following the hearing and of course have my own opinions which are irrelevant to what I want to share. On our last day in DC we saw many protestors outside the Capitol, Senate buildings and Supreme Court. They were holding signs that stated things like “Kava-not” or “Kava-yes”; “I Believe Her” or “I Believe Him.” That same day, we visited the Holocaust Museum.

At the museum we got a little turned around and entered a room that was set up as the end of a self guided tour first. It had small sheets of paper that prompted visitors to think. I glanced at a few. it sparked my thoughts early on in our tour.

As we toured the museum I processed my thoughts and three things stood out most to me:

Humans need leadership, we are prone to be followers.

There were displays set up in a timeline of how the government changed, Hitler came to power and the regime growing to become the evil it was. There was a video of Hitler giving a speech. I stopped as I thought, “what made him so attractive to influence people towards his evil ideology?” As I watched the video I realized the answer: nothing. Nothing made him any different than you or me. He too was human. He craved power. He stood up and took it. His followers craved leadership. They saw it. They followed. It was truly that simple. This quickly led me to the thought that the same pure evil we claim to despise, could happen again so easily. It only takes one.

Pictures are a priceless privilege we should cherish.

I have always been a picture lover. I greatly value a good photographer or even a camera on a phone to document so much of the life I know will quickly become a distant memory. Today, as I looked at the pictures that kept the story of so many people alive, it resonated how important it is to use photography. I can read a book or listen to someone tell it, but pictures make me see it. I understand it visually.

Eisenhower said,

“the things I saw beggar description… the visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were… overpowering… I made the visit deliberately in order to be in a position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever in the future there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to ‘propaganda.'”

His word, their experiences and the pictures we still have today is what keeps us from forgetting. We should remember that we will likely forget. So we should take pictures. During the good, during the bad, during the times we think shouldn’t be remembered: take pictures of it all.

Protests are a means for growth and the definition of freedom.

There was a room that started the displays of how and when America got involved. It had pictures of Americans protesting in our streets. Immediately, I thought of the people just outside protesting today. I also thought of the comments I had heard about how they shouldn’t be there. How they were causing a commotion over something that should be handled through our government. No, they should be there. Peaceful protests should always have a place in the streets of America. It is the definition of the American people and freedom of expression is a sacred right.

“I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”
James Baldwin

It is the people who hold our government accountable. Whether we are for or against something, whether we agree with the decisions our leaders are making or not, or even if we haven’t decided where we stand yet, as Americans, it is our responsibility to ask the questions and make each other think. These decisions shouldn’t be easy. There should be debates, questions, minds provoked and what-ifs answered.