For the last seven Fridays I have been posting interviews of Humanitarian Photographers. Though I have more I want to post, I am taking a break this Friday. Instead, I want to talk briefly about four different conversations I have had in the last two days. The first was with an Iraqi man named Alaa on Wednesday. I had met him before, but today he had a hat on that caught my attention and he just happened to have some time to talk at work. His hat had the words “God is Great” in Arabic on it along with the Iraqi flag. I approached Alaa and asked what his flag said, and he told me. We went on to talk about his family and what he is doing in America. As we shared wonderful Iraqi tea I asked him if I could do a photo story on a day in his life, which will be coming soon. It was simply another wonderful conversation with wonderful person who happens to be Muslim.
The other three conversations I had were with Americans. Though each of these couples were from very different walks of life, all of our conversations were centered around how we must strive to move beyond what the major media tells us about Muslims in the world, and for that matter other peoples. I told stories of my time with Muslims in India, experiencing some of the most incredible hospitality and friendship. There were questions that came up like “Aren’t you afraid” and I could honestly tell them know because I have always felt very safe when I have been with my Muslim friends in their countries.
I could go on and on but here is the point. We as visual peacemakers, or peacemakers of other kinds, have our work cut out for us. There are crazy stereotypes about whole blocs of peoples that make up so many different geographical regions, languages and cultures that are being perpetuated. We must keep creating stories and telling stories that bit by bit move people away from fear and prejudice.
Remember it is always too early to give up!