Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The power of a loaded camera

Thomas Nybo wields a loaded camera and he's not afraid to use it.

Like most professional photographers, he carries a camera with lenses that are comparable to a lethal weapon.  And perhaps the comparison is apt, because we refer to camera "shots".

Sometimes the "shots" that the camera takes are just as, if not more than, effective as a loaded gun. Take the images that have won Pulitzer Prizes:

And how many of us remember the picture of the lone Chinese standing in front of the tank in Tiananmen Square?

For many, the most poignant shot of the bombing of the Murrah building in Oklahoma City was of a fireman carrying two-year-old Baylee Almon.

And how many photos of the Twin Towers have we seen, with the smoke billowing out of them?

"Every Picture Tells A Story" is the title of a Rod Stewart album, and it's true.  The cliche is true:  a picture is worth a thousand words.

Thomas Nybo knows the power of a loaded camera.  He's put it to use in, among other places, Nepal and the Mediterranean.  He was in Nepal when the earthquake hit in April 2015.  His camera showed the world the devastation that followed.

More recently, he and his camera have documented the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean, putting faces to the figures of "millions of refugees fleeing Syria". 

You can hear the news reports.  You can hear the words of "earthquake," "refugees", etc., but sometimes, it's only when you see the images that the reality hits home.

Thomas Nybo attends my church.  On Sunday, I saw a note in our bulletin saying that our church's website will be redesigned for the fall, and Thomas will be taking pictures for the next few weeks.  If you see him, please just act normally.  (To which I responded mentally, "Ha!" :-) )

During our sermon, I saw Thomas busy with his camera.  I'd never had the pleasure of meeting him before, and I decided that I was going to see if I could meet him after service.

And I was lucky enough to do so.  He's a very nice man with a bald head, a big smile, and a laugh.

I told him I'd seen some of his pictures, and commented that if you have been in a situation such as the refugee crisis, you can't help but walk away unaffected.  He agreed with me.  I said that yes, I was concerned about terrorists coming in, but what about those who are just trying to get away?

He said in response, "If you don't want them to become terrorists, then treat them as you would anyone else."

That hit home with me.  Looking down our noses at refugees and immigrants and treating them as if they were already terrorists may indeed drive them into terrorism.  ("They already think I'm a terrorist, so why not be one?")

(Incidentally, when someone is admitted to our country as a refugee, the term "refugee" has a very specific meaning.  It is not just someone who has left one country and has entered ours.  And before they come to this country, they are thoroughly vetted.  That's not to say that terrorists can't pretend to be refugees before they get into this country.  But tarring and feathering an ethnic group with the brush of "terrorist" simply because a few of them are terrorists does a horrible disservice to those who are running away from the violence and horror of terrorism.)

Our motto at church is "Love First".  I'd like to think that, when Thomas Nybo's pictures are posted on our new website, they will be shots fired as ammunition of love.

Such is the power of a loaded camera.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

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