Saturday, September 03, 2005

A Human Disaster

A Human Disaster

I will not start a political debate. I have never been interested on those matters, neither in my native country where I always voted blank, nor in this country where I’ve been living for the last eleven years.

I don’t want this to be one more of the hundreds of articles, essays, blogger postings or public comments about the events happening in New Orleans since the hurricane Katrina hit American floor.

I am not an expert on natural disasters, not a sociology analyst of intellectual voice, I am not even pretending to say that my opinion has more weight than anybody’s else, I just felt compelled to make a reflection about our human nature.

Soon enough the news will start labeling Hurricane Katrina with “cookie cut” terms we are used to hear every other day. “The biggest natural disaster of the last century in the United States”, “a cultural debacle for the history of New Orleans and the entire Nation”. And all of us will adopt these terms on our daily conversations, thinking that perhaps it will make us look intellectually knowledgeable or hoping at the best that it will cover as a smoke curtain a reality we don’t want to accept. And the reality is that WE ALL HAVE FAILED.

Behind natures’ power we will hide our shame. With pre-made terminologies we will refer to an event that is more than the natural destruction of life, failing by our own egocentricity to see how it reflects a reality that has been living with us for centuries.

We have failed not just with Katrina, we have been failing for a long time. Every day that goes by and people die of hunger (on any part of the world), thirst, illness, poverty. Every day that a family sleeps with the sky as their only roof, every hour that a kid passes without education, school, healthcare and basic needs. Every day that a person gets killed by a bullet or any other act of violence, WE ARE FAILING.

This is our HUMAN DISASTER and that is the only way I want to call it. “Human” because it is our fault, our lack of action, that allows this things to happen every day.

We may think it is somebody’s else responsibility. The government, the military, the powerful, the rich, the poor, the Muslim, the Jewish, the Catholic… For us it is always somebody else, but the truth is that change starts with ourselves, in our own house, our neighborhood, city, state, country and world. Within our own little self-centered lives.

Don’t look for somebody else to blame, don’t search for solutions on other people’s decisions, it is up to you and me to make a difference, because we are that people.

How beautiful a poem I read from Master Thai that says:

(…)

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
My legs as thin as bamboo sticks,
And I am the arms merchant,
Selling deadly weapons to Uganda.

I am the twelve-year-old girl,
Refugee on a small boat,
Who throws herself into the ocean
After being raped by a sea pirate,
And I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable
Of seeing and loving.

I am a member of the politburo,
With plenty of power in my hands,
And I am the man who has to pay his
“debt of blood” to my people,
dying slowly in a forced labor camp.

(…)

Please call me by my true names,
So I can hear all my cries and my laughs at once,
So I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,
So I can wake up,
And so the door of my heart can be left open,
The door of compassion.

-- Thich Nhat Hann

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Back in contact with just a click

There are so many things I love about the web that I am not sure it is worth to enumerate them all. Big number of them are related to my profession of course, others are just small details I've been discovering as I got to use it.

Around ten years ago some of these reasons made me leave my working field at that time; print design, and jump to the web, were I have been an art director for the last nine years.

In love with the new media, the possibilities that it offered me were so tempting I could not resist. I would still do design but now with the possibilities of adding motion, interactivity and sound... the whole package for creating a rich experience.

But what brings me to this posting, are not precisely the professional reasons but other small ones I often take for granted since they have become part of our culture and daily life.

Today I received an email from a friend, Vladimir, a graphic designer that lives in Serbia & Montenegro.

I meet him through the web, as many of my others "e-friends". We both share profession, some hobbies (like love for design) and we both admire each other's work. I cannot remember when was the first time Vlad and I got in contact but just a simple email was the beginning of a friendship. We've never met in person but it does not matter for us; physical appearances don't matter in this world (not that they matter to me in the other one).

Although I lose contact with him quite often (as with many of my others "e-friends") the same number of times I find in my emails inbox a message I rapidly recognize; I don't know any other Vladimir. And as fast as a click, we are chatting about our lives, past adventures and future plans. With a click we get to be friends again.

The inexistency of distance, time and frontiers are the reasons I got to love this medium; the web. And this is why I get to enjoy again Vladimir's excellent work.

So as this posting started, it will end. And soon you will share for a few minutes; if you have the patience to read everything, a bit of my life perhaps feeling some closeness, some contact rubbing for a few seconds - a friendship that may start as this post ends, with just a click.

Cheers Vlad.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Start anew

Like taking a shower after a busy day, or shaving my head before I start a new project; re-formatting my computer leaves me with this feeling of cleanliness, a new page, a road ahead of me full of secrets and marvels waiting to be discovered.

Once I get over the tiredsome task of reinstalling all my programs (and I have lots of those), recovering the archived emails, importing my old bookmarks and re-organizing the fonts, looking at your computer performing on its expected way is really rewarding. It wakes up my creative juices and I come up with all these crazy ideas about a new web-project, a radical-changing design or the latest illustration.

It is really a fresh start and we all love those. We want to leave behind the heavy baggage we've been carrying around and see the new possibilities of the way in front of us, and we feel happy and positive about life.

This made me think... We don't need to wait for our Hard Drive to go bad, or shave our head to feel fresh (shower is always recommended) if we want to start anew. As a matter of fact every second of our life is a new beginning, a perfect moment, the only moment that is real. The past is gone, the future may never come, so right now is as good as any other moment to start fresh.

I forget this too often and I get tangle with how the past went or the future will go. "Wait until this happen and then I will enjoy life".

Then I re-read some passage from any of Thich Nhat Hanh's books and understand right away what I have to do. I need to be aware of the present moment, the only moment to be alive.

Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment
I know this is a wonderful moment.
--Thich Nhat Hanh

I am very happy my computer is working fine and I am very happy it broke down, because it gave me the opportunity to start fresh.

Thanks Master Thai.