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Long Insights From the Past

Today marks the anniversary of the executive order placed by President FDR to incarcerate Japanese Americans just because they looked like the enemy.  This came shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.   I have actually read a few books on this little piece of history and have found the entire situation completely fascinating.

There is no shortage of articles today, where you can read about the Japanese internment camps.

What really struck me hard today, was this article from NPR.  You can look at it HERE

The article is about three different photographers who captured images from the Japanese Camp Manzanar.

The first photographer invited to take pictures,was a social activist, Dorothea Lange.  The second was Ansel Adams and the third, a Japanese man who lived in the camp.  Their perspectives are fascinating.

The social activist, Dorothea Lange shared a visual tour of injustice.  Her images were harsh and showed rough conditions, dusty souls that had been misplaced by the very country they loved.

Ansel Adams portrayed a more humane side of the camp; individual personalities and activity.  A positive side of what life was like, or what he viewed their life to be like.  The instructions to Adams was that he could not photograph any barbed wire.

Finally, the man himself, who lived out each day in these camps, shared his view of life.  He himself had to smuggle in a homemade camera so that he could capture his own history.   After having his camera confiscated so many times, they decided to hire him to be the camp photographer.  He even ended up with a studio and took portraits of families and special events.

As I read this, it really hit home for me.

How often to we stand where we are, with our abridged view of someone or something, and look upon them with our narrow vision and personal knowledge base which becomes the measuring stick of judgement towards them?

What is it we want to see?  Do we ever try to see beyond our limited knowledge?  Are we ever open to the possibility that perhaps, we don't see beyond the razor wire and walls others build around their world to keep people from peering into more than a keyhole of space?

When was the last time, you heard someone voice a negative thought about an interaction they may have had and that became your view too?   Even more dangerous than that, allowed that one negative perspective to be yours, even letting go the different, even positive view who had once had yourself, of the same said person?

Why is this such an important lesson to be learned?

Well, because...It is.

In a way, I see myself as a person who has been placed in an internment camp of sorts.  Perhaps it's a place I put myself.  Perhaps, a place others put me and I went peaceably because I didn't know any better.  Perhaps, it's just the nature of living with a disease that is so rare and hard to understand and estimate.

I look back on my life and remember the days when I was attending college; so full of hope for the future.  I remember being a new wife, a promising life ahead.  I remember when the kids started arriving, how full life was.  I was finding my way.  A new chapter, a new me. I had responsibilities, a lot of them in church, in the neighborhood, the community.  I had friends, many friends.  I had a best friend.  I had a best friend that I spent every day with.  Our kids played together, we laughed together.  When we couldn't be together we spent hours on the phone. People saw me as having it all.

The perfect everything.  We were THAT family.  I was THAT mom.  I was THAT girl who had it all together and I had THAT perfect marriage to boot!

And...THAT...was good.

Except...THAT...wasn't the truth.  THAT was the view that I chose to let people see of me or honestly, the one they chose to see.

And then THAT happened.  Something terribly wrong with my kids and I came unraveled.  I couldn't find my way through the diagnostics of a life threatening sentence that was being handed us. Slowly, my world fell away.  Try as I might to hold on to what I had, it has slowly eroded.

Today, my life is sparse and bare compared to what it once was. There are few connections beyond the walls of my home.  We live with a disease that is not easy to connect to.  People don't see me as the person I once was.  They don't see me as a person of value, they only see what they want to see.  For some, it is the barbed wire of disease that keeps us at an arms length away because it is just too much; foreign from the normal experiences of life.  Too much to even begin to believe.  Others have measured us as having too much on our plate to do anything more.  For still others, they only see what must certainly be a sad and depressing tale.  For a very few...they see a happy family; a giving, grateful, eager to help and easily entertained in fits of laughter and joy, kind of family.

I guess we are all of this.  On any day, we are all of this just like the three views of the Japanese internment camps.  Some days, our plate is full, too full.  Some days our experiences take us to another dimension; another world many will never see let alone understand.  Some days, most days...we are happy.  We are making the best of it.  We are learning.  We are making mistakes.  We stand up, we show up.

The reflections of this go deep.  I wonder what it is I really want the world to see?  We may exist within an internment of disease and hard trials but there is more to us.  Far more than what your limited lens may see or size up.   Even more than my own lens can see.

It's about perspective.  Mine.  Yours.  I am going to choose to find a new way of seeing things this weekend.  I am going to think twice before I judge the day.  The weather.  The neighbors.  You.  And even me...I am going to think twice before I judge my own shortcomings but more importantly...God.



  1. I see you guys as freaking amazing, and normal at the same time, while still acknowledging that you all are experiencing things beyond normal. Thanks for being the awesome people you are.


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