Posted by: Bill Tracy | September 29, 2022

My Eyes Only?

I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn’t photograph them.

– Diane Arbus

I’ve long said the reason I “take pictures” with a camera is to show people what they would have seen if they had looked. If my image does that, it’s a success. Maybe we all see things differently, but I’m convinced many people look and simply don’t see.

Recently I was talking with an artist (online), and I told her a little story:

I drove trucks to pay the bills while I was going to college. At day’s end I was talking with another driver outside our terminal in Indian Mills, NJ. As he spoke I was rapt with a setting sun and blazing sky behind him. I called his attention to it. Briefly, he glanced over his shoulder, said “Oh yeah,” and went on talking. I have no memory of what he was saying, but I still remember the vision of that South Jersey sunset. I’ve always wondered why, over 40 years later I still have a vivid memory of a sunset that he never really saw.

She responded, “Perhaps it was just meant for you.”

I’d have to disagree as I don’t think anything is “meant” in any way for any specific person. We make our own way in this life, largely on our own. Nature and nurture play a role, but I believe we mostly decide what we are willing to see. Some things we want to see and others we just don’t, or won’t.

Anyway, as long as my vision holds up I’ll keep trying to show what people could have seen if they had been willing to look.

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A South Jersey sunset in September as the ferry docked at Cape May, NJ USA
Posted by: Bill Tracy | September 10, 2022

Lessons of History

If history and science have taught us anything, it is that passion and desire are not the same as truth.
-E.O Wilson

Knocking around in the 1930s I came across history I never imagined — and a further indictment of the warlike Franklin D. Roosevelt. Front page, Philadelphia Inquirer, April 23, 1937 reports…

Let the People Vote on War, 6000 Demand at Peace Rally

“…they massed in Convention Hall for the Emergency Peace campaign meeting.” On a chilly Thursday evening in Philadelphia, 6000 is a lot of people. Winds of war were rousing Europe then — like fallen leaves of WWI swirling around the back yard. We were already scrapping with the Japanese who would be at full scale war with China in three months. Charles Lindbergh was celebrating faschism in Germany, and the Bush family was getting rich selling steel to Germany, which it used to build up its armaments.

The general feeling in the U.S. was isolationism. We were oceans away from those warring countries, and most people in the U.S. wanted nothing to do with it. I knew all that, but I did not know a Constitutional Amendment was being proposed that would allow us to go into war only if  a popular vote of the citizens permitted it (with the exception of a direct attack on the U.S. proper). This was being proposed in the U.S. Congress as the Ludlow Amendment. The Wikipedia page sums it up…

“The Ludlow Amendment was a proposed amendment to the Constitution of the United States which called for a national referendum on any declaration of war by Congress, except in cases when the United States had been attacked first. Representative Louis Ludlow (D-Indiana) introduced the amendment several times between 1935 and 1940. Supporters argued that ordinary people, who were called upon to fight and die during wartime, should have a direct vote on their country’s involvement in military conflicts.”

In 1937, this amendment was favored by 73% of the U.S. population. Franklin Roosevelt was president, and he knew war was unavoidable. So he didn’t want the citizens interfering with this incubation period. He politically nullified the Amendment. If it had gotten to the states, it would have taken years probably to be decided; by then war was already upon us.

I do wonder what may have happened if this Amendment had been created. It could not have kept us out of WWII as Roosevelt had masterfully engineered the Japanese attack on Hawaii (not a state then, but a U.S. possession). Perhaps it could have come into effect in Korea or Vietnam. What a blessing it would have been to keep us out of Vietnam! Even so, would the people have voted for the Vietnam war? There was popular support once we were in, but it may not have carried enough weight to get us in if it had to be voted on beforehand.

Would such a Constitutional Amendment have prevented the mess we have today? Since WWII, we’ve been involved in nearly 20 wars. I wrote about this a few years back in A Nation Addicted to War. We now have around 800 U.S. military installations all over the globe, and we’re spending realistically a trillion dollars a year for a military machine that props up an empire crumbling from within.

They say history has a lot to teach us. However, interpretation of those lessons may be more challenging than the reading of history itself.

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