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Now I am going on a journey
And I pray all things end well
While Mother Earth looks after me
I will follow faithfully.
Though I treat her carelessly
Mother Earth provides for me.
Tom Rush

This is a volume of words. The spoken and written word have plotted the course of human history. We think in words and then we write and act upon our thoughts. Consider the influence on human society of the Bible, the Koran, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, or a sonnet by William Shakespeare. President Kennedy, speaking at Amherst College, said it this way in one of his last speeches: "When power leads man toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses."

But this is also a volume of photographs. Edgar Allen Poe stated in 1840 that photography was the greatest scientific advancement of his day. Hard to argue that. And then science begat art and no art form transforms human apathy more than photography. Glance at any collection of historical photographs: the mushroom cloud over Hiroshima, shootings at Kent State University, the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk, or perhaps the most iconic photograph of all time, Earthrise. We absorb the message of these powerful pictures and they move us. Empathy and insight come together at once and we are changed. We want to cheer or we want to change the world and bring about a better day.

It is quite remarkable when a picture of a starving child in Biafra is followed by food shipments from around the world. Remarkable too when the image Massacre at Sharpeville mobilizes world opinion against apartheid in South Africa. Or when Earthrise, man's first look at his tiny blue home from space, changes his perception of the planet, from big world to small world. This then is the power of photography.


Untouchables, or Dalits, the lowest of the Hindu caste system, comprise 15 percent of India's population. They are considered dregs, polluted, and do only the filthiest work. They live separate from the rest of Hindu society and are not allowed to enter temples or take water from local wells. Even their shadows are forbidden to touch other Hindus. Gandhi tried to change all this with little success. One might say if Gandhi can't do it, no one can. But then Gandhi would never give up. Perhaps this is the image that will end the caste system.

© Danny Kimberlin 2015