I Thought It Was Clear…
But I Am Only A Photographer
Act I, WE SEE WHAT WE WANT TO SEE
For millennia the universe -in our eye- was our perception of starry sky lifted without help by the sheer will of the Gods or God safely right above our heads. Those who dared challenge the conforming majority, often were burned at the stake, or banished along with their thoughts, and books. The universe never failed to present itself in a revealing way, but only to those who think outside box. Everything in the entire universe that we know of- as of now- was and will be recycled into, and come from another matter in one huge recycling plant on a scale unfathomable by humans.If we examine the sun, (a minor star with a relatively short life 5.5 billion years) it is a factory of nuclear fusion turning its Hydrogen into 99.999%Helium and the remaining .0001% is the energy that provides and sustains life on our planet, vis-a-vis makes it impossible on other planets. One day the Hydrogen will run out and the Helium will turn into heavier and heavier elements until its core becomes unsustainable and it becomes Supernova or a Nebula that explodes but not before it would have expanded and devoured most of its near orbiting planets. This is how one minor star recycles itself and the matter that made up the star will eventually coalesce into other cosmic bodies that may orbit larger stars. There is nothing new in what I just said or even surprising. What’s surprising is that everything that we know exists by the same universal rules. From our tiny microscopic human cells that are mini factories turning Oxygen and sugar into energy that our bodies utilize until it is no longer capable of sustaining the process and even then our bodies decompose to its original components. To the water molecules that existed hundreds of millions of years ago, and are still in existence today because they were recycled over and over and our ancestors drank and irrigated their crops using the very molecules. The universal rules that govern and control the shape, behavior, mass, velocity, lifespan, and most importantly perception, are the object of my observation. You see, when we expect an answer to call or prayer, we are asking for and expecting the suspension of theses universal rules in our favor. And when we see what want to see, then we confirm a miracle.
Act II, THE WHOLE OR THE UNIT
But, I pause for a moment and ask you the reader when you look at a human being or an animal do you think about their cells or do you see the whole being? When do you stand on top of a mountain do you see the individual rocks or the entire mountain? Do you see the forest or do you see individual trees and little shrubs that grow under it? In my observation, I see the entire organism!! I not only see us as an individual being, but I see the entire organism. Allow me to explain! The forest with all its trees and animals and mountains and valleys is an integrated organism that out-lived and out-survived any other similar organism on the planet. The ubiquity of trees and small animals and insects over the surface of the planet proves this point. Given the absence of mankind, the planet will be a forest, except where it is extremely dry like the Sahara desert in Africa or the Mojave in North America, or Patagonia in South America, or Xinjiang – Taklimakan Desert in China, to mention a few. But having the entire planet covered by forest that sustains and renews itself is not such a bad thing. Humans, however, have lived on the face of this planet plundering and exhausting it resources for almost 60,000 years.Now with the advent of our newly found knowledge and for the first time in human history, in the span of one hundred and fourteen years humanity doubled its number four folds. In the distant past say 1500 B.C. humans on earth lived in about three groups of civilizations and numerous others that were not discovered and almost left no trace behind and yet the world’s population then estimated to be 10 million. We fast forward to the Roman Empire and find that Rome boasted over a million inhabitants and hosted over two million visitors annually. Our Parent’s generation, however, were born when the world population was about one and a half billion inhabitants, and witnessed the growth of the world’s population from 1.5 to 3.0 and from 3.5 to 7 billion. As an observer, I can’t help but see us, as the most successful organism the planet has ever hosted. We have not surpassed the forest in numbers yet, but we’re on our way. Our growth, however, is not sustainable at the very alarming rates according to the UNICEF and other NGOs the rate of growth in sub-Saharan Africa is the highest it’s ever been since we kept records. The breadbasket of North Africa, Egypt is the number one country importer of wheat in the world. That is not an accident but a human disaster created and manifested by humans. The people there have suspended the laws of the universe and despite their best effort and world recognition for being the best recycling country in Africa and the third world, yet the depletion of its most important resources namely The Nile Delta, and the River Nile, continues at a catastrophic rate. You don’t have to be an expert on any subject to realize when you look at a satellite photo of the Nile Delta between the Nile’s own tributaries that a cancer is growing, and an organism so prevalent, has devoured the green, and the arable land with no recourse of rehabilitation. This cancer, this organism is destroying many other similar places that have sustained life for ages. As an organism, we act with a self-destruct mode, which is unprecedented in any species or any other organism. As fast as we are growing, we are also killing each other, enslaving each other and creating conditions for some humans that trees in the forest would not agree to exist in. All of this led me to cry enough, to stupidity, enough killing our planet, and enough inequality.
Act III, HOW IMPORTANT ARE WE?
The universe is so vast beyond most human comprehension, but that doesn’t mean we ignore its profound laws and rules. Agreeing that we and everything around us including our own Earth are recycled matter, and given that we are just visitors on this space traveling rock, and this rock existed for 4.8 Billion years, only for us to have evolved in the last few million years and from that species a human-like species evolved as recent as 6-8 million years, then an erect, bipedal human ancestor in the last one hundred thousand years, and finally our direct ancestors in the last 30-40,000 years, with civilization starting only 8-7000 years ago. Given all of that, it is only fair to say that this magnificent planet will continue to exist long after we are gone. This begs the question then, why are we in so much hurry to destroy and exploit the planet? Knowing that in the end “it” will win, and we will be recycled? It is egotistical to think that the Earth exists to serve and sustain us and its destiny is intertwined with ours. This planet existed and will continue to exist long after us visitors have been gone. In my observations, I see that our primal instincts have not kept up with our evolution. As we evolved to house a bigger brain in our skulls, and have smoother less hairy bodies, and have ambidextrous hands and remarkable limbs, our innermost instincts, and thought processes, never evolved to cope with the massive amount of new and complex scientific facts. As a matter of fact, the majority of humans still add meanings to pure and abstract scientific phenomena. Take flight, for instance, most of the millions of people that get on board the thousands of flights on a daily basis, haven’t a clue on how, and what makes this behemoth take to the air. All those passengers concern themselves with, are the needs, and wants that we’ve learned to crave on a daily basis. What to eat, and how to feel the advantage of better legroom, or in the case of first class; how not see and deal with business, and economy classes. People pray or hold on to some superstitious relic, before take off, instead of learning the dynamics of what makes the plane take off, in order to assure themselves of a safe take off. Despite the overwhelming indications that it is the knowledge of the few of science, we -the entire human race- have benefited from science and technology, but do not dare give them credit. We are always on look out of evidence that the rules of the universe can be suspended for us the very important and supreme.
ACT IV HOPE IS AN ILLUSION
It is with a heavy heart that I mark the first anniversary of my father’s passing. I traveled more than 22 hours to see him, only to hold his dying hand in mine and say good-bye. The remarkable moment came when I was asked to be present when they cleansed his body. This became a defining moment in reconciling the man that lived and the body that expired. If it was one thing that my departed father left me, it was“integrity” in every meaning of the word. Only hours later that I was asked to help bury his body. Now, and forever, his expired corps has entered into the ground, back into mother Earth. This was the moment of separation, of the man that I loved and respected, and the man that has departed. It was a long time ago when my father sat me down to teach me one final lesson before I flew from London to LA to pursue a career in film. I always felt entitled to good luck and fortune and expected nothing less before my travel. Father, on the other hand, was talking to me on a different dimension, that didn’t sink in till more than a couple of decades later. He asked me about my hopes and dreams and noticed that in my dreams, I did not –for lack of better word- have a plan. I was hoping that my entitlement to good luck would facilitate and ensure my success. Father, was clearly not amused with my plan, He talked to me about the budget and business plans. The word that kept coming up was always “integrity”. I loved his passion and I’ve learned to only engage in something that I’m passionate about, with integrity. This meant, that I needed not hope for a miracle –even thought I did- and not to suspend the rules of the universe for me, and forsaking all others, so I could be a better artist, or cameraman, or businessman. Hope, is an antidepressant that is used to kick the can down the road for another time. This how we formulate a plan to nowhere. I know now that wishing, hoping, and -praying for that matter- has the same odds for achieving one’s dreams as winning the lotto. Without action, and a solid plan, nothing will ever happen. The difference between a young man’s life today and in thirty years from now is not measured by how many hopes and dreams he had, but by what he has planned and accomplished. Thank you, dad, for a life’s lesson, and I “hope” to pass it one day to my youngsters.
Emad Asfoury January 22, 2014
My Dad Passed away on January 23, 2013