Friday, October 21, 2011


Watching "The Farmers and the Helicopters" (2006) by Dinh Q. Le

It pains me to see the incredible cruelty and callousness that people show towards each other and towards those who are most vulnerable in life -- children and animals, especially. And sometimes, I see that same cruel tendency in children themselves, who act out the very violence that they witness or perhaps seems normal to them, and target other children and small animals. Once I had to stop a group of neighborhood children who were pestering a kitten and on the verge of torturing it. On several occasions, I've seen children taunt and bully those they deem as weak or different. Cyberbullying now forms part of our vocabulary, as the internet is seen as another venue for bullying by children (and adults).

How sad it is to see the ugliness of human nature manifest in such young, seemingly innocent faces. It's so easy to sentimentalize childhood, but when I remember it from a more realistic perspective, I recall the complexities of feelings and experiences that we as children encounter even if we don't have the maturity to understand them.

I'm struck, though, by the powerful role that adults have in guiding children. To lead by example is, ultimately, the best way to guide them, especially in times full of violence and conflict, when the lessons of history seem lost on too many. And it is in moments like this one I captured, when an adult (a father, I presume) explains a video installation to a child in a museum, that I cling to the hope that future generations will learn to analyze history and not repeat the mistakes of the past.

And maybe it's just wistful thinking, but I likewise hope that adults in the present will consider how each decision we make -- how each action taken and statement uttered -- affects not just those immediately around us, but also the younger generations who look to us for guidance and form part of our communities.


*Watching "The Farmers and the Helicopters" (2006) by Dinh Q. Le at the MOMA. This video installation featured scenes of the helicopters used during the Vietnam war, the recollections of ordinary Vietnamese people, as well as current scenes of Vietnamese farmers who are now using helicopters (built in Vietnam) to transport farm products for the good of their community.

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