Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Beam Me Up, Scotty!

It’s worse than I thought…

Not only did I have to jettison poor Captain Kirk from my magazine article, but I had to give the very people – note that operative word, people – my article on People Development was supposed to be about the heave-ho.

It was another howl-at-the-moon afternoon.

Were this an article about investigating, say, fraud in Brooklyn, I could understand these strictures about not focusing on the people in the article, but rather on the business practices they employ doing their job.

Great! Fine! I’d be cool. Cool beans. I’d be on board. I’d be on the same page as management.

If it were a people development (business education) piece about a particular educational class – Detecting Auto Fraud (how can you tell a car has been in a flood – the rusted metal and the musty odor of mold) - hey, that’s great! I’m all for that.

But evicting the people in a story about People Development because they’re people, not just cogs keeping the machine going, that just boils my tea kettle.

People are everything. They can be rude, arrogant, mean, cruel, selfish, stupid, lazy. They can be a royal pain in the butt. But they’re what it’s all about. That’s why God put Man at the top of the food chain (if Man doesn’t watch himself, God could change that order).

My first lesson in photography came not from my journalist parents, who were also excellent photographers, and not from my eminently helpful colleagues who taught me the difference between an F-stop and a bus stop, but from my piano teacher when I was a teenager.

Mrs. S. was old. Her memory dated back to the previous century. She remembered when my band and her father’s band were first formed, when the two bands were rivals.

We had taken a vacation out West to the Grand Canyon and the Rocky Mountains. Proudly, I showed her my landscape photos of the majestic mountains and the sweeping vistas of the Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon.

She looked through them and nodded politely. When she was finished, she said, “Well those are very nice, dear. But where are the people?”

“What do you mean, Mrs. S. (there were a few photos of my family, but I was chiefly interested in photographing the scenery)? These are the Rocky Mountains! That’s Pikes Peak and there’s the Colorado River!!”

“Oh, I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings, dear!” she replied. “You’re very proud of your photos. But those are just mountains. Rivers. Trees. When you get right down to it, they’re all very much the same.

“But people!” she went on. “People are always changing. No two are ever exactly alike, not even identical twins. They’re as unique as their fingerprints. There’s always something new to see and learn about people. You never know what they’re going to do (or why).”

You can take a picture of a tree, and the change of seasons notwithstanding, the tree will be the same year after year. But people grow and change. They’re full of varying moods. The same person’s face will change from moment to moment and year to year.

How can that ever compare to a tree, she asked rhetorically. I wound up applying that lesson not only to my photography, but my writing as well.  Photos are one thing; but a story without people is static, lifeless, and dull.  I enjoy taking nature photos, but people pictures are my real passion, photographically speaking.

Still, I believe in balance and have pictures on two of my cubicle walls. One wall has soothing photos of flowers and lovely trees in bloom. The other, photos of various people – a baby having a bad hair day, an American Indian in full regala, my nephew, graduating from high school.

The environmentalist wackos seem not to understand or appreciate the importance of people except when they’re looking for votes. Then they trot out the violins and start hugging trees and babies. They denounce big companies as heartless and impersonal (an argument hard to refute sometimes…).

But they’re not doing people any favors, either. One minute they’re bemoaning the plight of the poor, and the next, accusing people of being the worst thing to happen to Planet Earth since the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs.

So ends my people rant. I must remain faithful to whatever readers I have who come to my blog seeking conservative inspiration. Tomorrow, it’s back to defending the country.

And the people who love her.

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