What do I believe in? – Brian Sokol Part II


I am compelled to write another post on Brian Sokol, this time regarding his photo story “Tibetan Protests”.

Comprised of 18 images, the only text Brian offers is this:

“On March 10, 2008 hundreds of Tibetans took to the streets of Lhasa in protest of Chinese rule.  The demonstrations turned violent and claimed an unknown number of lives in the Tibetan capital.  In the following days and weeks the protests spread to various Tibetan communities in India, Nepal and the West.

In Kathmandu, monks, nuns and other Tibetans exiles gathered outside of the Chinese embassy and the United Nations building demanding an inquiry into human rights abuses in their homeland.  Nepali police responded to the protests with baton charges, tear gas and by arresting hundreds of nonviolent demonstrators.”

This isn’t a “Free Tibet” post, this isn’t even a post about Tibet or peace protests, it’s more about having something to believe in.

Looking through the pictures and recognizing human emotions: anger, pain, hope, conviction; witnessing acts: beatings, bleeding, crying, dragging – all I see are people who believe in something far greater than themselves.

I am often amused by how selfish humans are, it’s a trait that I look down-upon but of course, am guilty of myself. There are some people I know who have the…gift (for lack of a better word) of turning every conversation inward about themselves. In some cases, it’s funny… in others it’s absolutely the most frustrating thing ever. To think that there are people.. you know the ones I’m talking about… they have facebook albums that are 98% self-taken pictures yet subtly titled “My Favorite People” with a few shots of friends, or the ones who have no problem having 300 pics of themselves under the witty album name “Me, Myself and I”  and better yet, those who change their profile picture on a daily basis… but you don’t ever see both arms because one is busy feeding their narcissism…. I got slightly sidetracked, but you know what I mean.

In one of my classes we learned about how children possess the basic of human traits: self interest. As a child, your whole world revolves around you and that’s that. It’s only as we grow and become more social animals that we adhere to the rules of a society – but my point is, most of us don’t seem to grow out of what should be a phase, we live our lives just for ourselves (which mildly transcends into my part-theory on why relationships don’t work), most of us are vain and talk about ourselves and photograph ourselves and anything we do, we do because it benefits us (of if there is no immediate self-gain, we do it because it doesn’t really matter or affect us).

I try to think of acts of sacrifice: things I’ve done that were hard, that I did out of love, that I did purely for the sake of a higher good… an unselfish act of humanity that I gained nothing from… and my mind draws a blank. Because things like giving Rs 10 to an old man doesn’t count when I know I’m only passing him on my way to spend at least 500% more just on dinner. Allowing my sister to borrow my favorite clothes hardly makes me a good Samaritan when her closet is merely an extension of mine.

Which brings me to the crux of this post: what do I have that I believe in?

There are vague, meaningful but non-descriptive ideals like:  I believe in God, and friendships, and family, and love and blah blah blah… but seeing those pictures… of men being dragged on the streets, of the stiff rods bearding down on someone’s body, pictures of people weeping for something – I ask myself, what those peopled endured, is there anything that I would bear their suffering for?

The truth is, I don’t know.

I know that you could take away the maroon robes, you could take away the blues and yellows of the flags, you could substitute those with Nepali clothes and the red,navy and white of two triangles to end up with pictures of Nepal’s rise to “freedom,” there are many who died, and over 1350 still missing for this country. As I mentioned in my last post, I wasn’t here for any of it, and were I here, I can’t be sure that I’d be on the streets… not for curiosity, but I wonder if I would have allowed tear-gas to suffocate me from inside out, I wonder if I would let a rod try to break my skin, I wonder if I would have bleed for Nepal.

I wonder if I would bleed for anything.

What do I believe in?

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2 comments
  1. Hope said:

    I don’t know if I would ever bleed for the lines drawn in the sand known as my country, but I might bleed for my ideals and my countrymen. I believe in people, I guess. I’m a little utopian that way sometimes.

    As a sidenote, I love what you noticed about the FB narcissists… But everyone has their passion in life, some just happen to find it in the mirror! Hrmph. 😛

  2. poet said:

    well you are in search of essence ……
    yes humans are very selfish even if they think they are not selfish but they are ,,really these humans …..also i think therefore i am ,,,without me the world would not exist , that is for me off course …
    p.s The poor don’t know that their function in life is to exercise our generosity.
    Jean-Paul Sartre

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