Two weeks ago I hit a mental wall. My answer was to go to Lebanon, Kansas. The geographic center of the contiguous United States. It was planned, the family was told I would be gone, my calendar was cleared, this was all within hours. It would be a solo drive. Me, my truck, cameras and a notebook. Like I said I had hit a wall. The dailypic is in its eleventh year, this historically is not a place I talk much politics. I like to let my photos speak for me, and even they are open to interpretation. When I was younger I was very vocal, loud even when it came to politics. I know some of my friends now would say I still am, but I try to read the room, I try to stay within parameters I set for myself. I have those I trust and respect that I am vocal with. I have others I rather not breach the subject. I have lived on both sides. I have worn both colors on my sleeve. I love to consume news, information, facts, and am willing to change my stance on something based on my personal beliefs, and even the beliefs of others. Why am I telling you any of this? Well, I hit that wall. I wanted to go to Kansas. We are divided as a country. That might be the only thing we can agree on. Everyone seems to be right, and everyone seems to be wrong, there seems to be no other. All I know is I get confused. I have close friends on each ‘side’. I have people I value, respect, at odds with each other. I am sure you do too. I start to question what I believe, what I think is right. Am I the wrong one? Could I be that naive? Yet at the same time, I do not want to talk about it, out of laziness and the desire not to argue – it takes so much energy to argue with no solution. I miss talking. So if there are two sides, I wanted to find the middle. Kansas was a pin in the map, a point to direct the truck. On the way, I would document, learn, talk, get outside my circle and I am sure I would find others like me that don’t know what to think.
I have a horrible analogy (I love horrible analogies) that I live by. Lenses. I can make reality look so many ways with my camera, it just depends on the lens. The glass in the lens changes how things look, sometimes it distorts it, sometimes it enhances it. I can make a large subject look small, I can make a twig look like a trunk, all by changing my lens. I have favorites, and I know what to expect. What if I look at the world through someone else’s lens? And it does not look as I expect? Yet we are looking at the same things? I find myself saying and thinking it all the time, how does it look through their lens? It has prevented arguments, it has cleared up misunderstandings, it has made me much more aware. That was the goal of the trip and at the same time show how I see things. Well, logistically I can not make the trip work right now. I mean I could, but I decided not to, between traveling state to state, need for quarantining, trying to keep my business running, not being locked down for two weeks after I return. Just to find lodging is a challenge.
Keep in mind this plan was conceived two weeks ago, before the death of George Floyd. I would have been on the road last week and this week. We are not even the same country we were when I was planning this. I just want to document, I feel it is the only thing I can do. Share the photos I find and let images tell a story. So since I am still here, I went to Boston last night with my daughter. We attended the rally at the Boston Common. I will document locally if I can not head to the middle. What I saw was powerful. So many people, young people mostly. Signs, masks, marching, chanting, singing, rallying, speeches. It was impressive, moving. I made my way into the crowds. As far as I saw it was a peaceful, polite, respectful sea of masked faces. Turns out in that crowd I had friends who were also there, on the sides where the police were doing their job, and keeping us safe; I had friends there too.
We left for home as things started to break up, it just felt like the time to leave. We walk into the house and my wife is watching the news. A police car is on fire, windows of storefronts – that we had passed on the way to our car less than an hour ago – smashed. This was not the scene we had left. It was disturbing. I felt duped. I was going to leave the photos until today, but I felt I had to post – so I shared the following words and a photo from my phone.
I went to the rally in Boston tonight to document it. My daughter joined me, and I will have many more photos tomorrow. The number of people was overwhelming, 99% were wearing masks, as you bumped people said “sorry, excuse me, pardon me.” People helping people, handing out sanitizer, different pockets of groups talking, dancing, chanting, again, all peaceful. I was amazed at the number of signs in the trash and not just toss on the common. The police were great, and I saw people thanking them, many were smiling, interacting positively, they blocked traffic, guiding people on streets that weren’t closed. We left at 9:30pm or so, home in 45 mins. I get in the house TV is on, I see a cop car on fire, storefronts are broken, gas being thrown. If I had not gone and only seen the news I would be in a panic, but I went, I was there, I was impressed. Just as the majority of police are good, yet the bad ones make the news, the majority of protesters/demonstrators are good, but only the bad ones make the news. You have no reason to form an opinion based on anything I say, I am not trying to take a side of even present an argument. All I can say is what was on my TV could make me question reality, if I did not trust myself. Show it all and avoid the narrative.
That post has been shared over 4000 times. I have gotten text messages, calls, notes, from people telling me they read it. I have been unnecessarily thanked. I have had people tell me I was wrong in posting it. That I am disrespecting the business owners that were looted. Not my intent at all, but to each their own opinion. In truth I had no intent, no agenda, I am trying to show what I see, that is all I am ever trying to do. Again going back to the start of this rambling mess, I hit a wall, I am confused these days. All I learned from my own post is maybe I am not the only one (though I still plan on figuring out the trip) and I did not need to go to Kansas to learn something. Rest in Peace Mr. Floyd, may we come out stronger for your sacrifice. Here are my photos from the peaceful portion of the Boston rally, May 31, 2020.