Making a Statement

Exchange of Words

Exchange of Words

It’s a common guideline of street photography to use wide angle lenses that’s often adhered to like a rule. Fortunately, being only a guideline, there are times when one must use something else. Making this shot was such an occasion.

People in public protest with picket signs are more often than not beacons to me. Like “God’s Messenger”, they are sources of food for thought, whether I personally agree with their premise or not. It was at a Remembrance Day Ceremony in Gore Park when I spotted the sign of the pony-tailed man in the right of the image. With that sign, he certainly stuck out of the crowd but was too distant to see in better detail with my wide angle lens. So I switched to a 70-300mm zoom. The only long lens I had in my bag at the time.

Once I zoomed in, I saw the look that seems to have ignited an interaction between the demonstrator and the young Elvis Presley look-alike close to the left edge of my viewfinder. The young man kept looking at the protestor and his sign until he could no longer keep in what was on his mind.

I can’t read lips, so I’ll never know what the two men actually said to each other but the posture and facial expression of the one on the left suggests to me that he felt it necessary to tell the man on the right that there was a better occasion to stage a peaceful one-man demonstration. I saw the protestor smirk. I’m sure that he would have found such an opinion to be ironic. I started pressing my shutter button as the two began to converse.

The exchange was brief and quite peaceful. There may have been no conflict whatsoever between the pair but the moment certainly provided a fascinating observation nonetheless.

Seeing this circumstance also triggered other considerations in me.

I grew up in the last decade of the Cold War, and I can remember in my adolescence hearing news reports of North American kids in my age group committing suicide and leaving behind notes for their families explaining that they felt afraid of what seemed to be an imminent Armageddon, and powerless to stop it. Every now and then, I see someone protest like this man at right and I think about how far I’ve come since the 80’s unlike those other kids who would have also seen the end of the Cold War had they hung on just a little longer, had someone noticed the damage that was being caused and did something sooner to prevent their untimely deaths. Who knows what they would have achieved with their lives? Who knows what impact they may have made on the world by now, and the motives people have for engaging in wars that result in Remembrance Day Ceremonies and possibly the last days.

I’ll never say that we’re okay when it comes to prophesizing the end of the world because, frankly, all is not alright with the world. I still, nevertheless, have hope for a better tomorrow. We can cling to the idea that we can get to a better time, and most importantly actively work toward that auspicious future; somehow, some way.

4 thoughts on “Making a Statement

  1. That reminds me of someone I knew in Quebec who didn’t go to college because he felt that the world would end in a nuclear holocaust. His friends used to say to him, “What are you going to do if it doesn’t.” Sometimes when I see or hear people predicting the end of the world, I think about him and wonder what he’s doing.

    I’m in my late forties, and I feel that I’ve been hearing about how the world is going to end for my entire life. You’re right, it’s hard to dismiss the sign because it points to problems that are real, but the apocalyptic conclusion is nonetheless doubtful.

    • Yes, it’s too easy to be negative and fatalistic. For some reason, many of us seem to forget or ignore that we are a resolute species. We can still overcome adversity if we really want it, and organize smartly and constructively in our approach.

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