I started this series as a way to explore some of the questions I had in regards to representation–I live in a somewhat intense, urban, diverse, low-income complex, and I was struggling with how to approach writing about my life.
Through this series, I asked my friends and co-laborers to answer (or not) the questions of how do we go about sharing stories that aren’t our own–specifically the hard stories? How do we put a spotlight on some of the forgotten stories of our age while still giving dignity and respect to the subjects?
The answers were, of course, complicated. But the shining thread that ran through the series was that our neighbors, contexts, and relationships were to be treasured at all costs. And many times, instead of a War Photographer, people are just hungry for friends. Someone to sit next to them while they shuffle their papers, have an anxiety attack, miss their children who died far too young. They don’t need to be turned into tropes or props or stereotypes; they need radical compassion, just like we all do.
For me, this series changed the way I viewed my vocation. Writing always must come second. True advocacy is born in mutuality, and mutuality takes time, humility, grace, and a healthy dash of the Holy Spirit. Without these things we are just clanging gongs and clashing symbols.
I am still working on the questions. I am still, every day, processing how the world can be this broken and this beautiful at the same time. I hope I never stop wondering at this, the constant heartache and constant satisfaction that is life in the kingdom. Where I cry all the time and yet somehow feel like it is my birthday every day.
Read some of these stories, and come along with us. We are messy, complicated, and trying our best to step into the picture ourselves.
Series Introduction (plus, a piece on the Migrant Mother found here).
Ed Cyzewski (What I Saw in an Inmates Eye)
Melissa Gutierrez (The Storm in the Streets)
J.R. Goudeau (How Free Do I have the Right to Be?)
Peter Anderson (Where the World Sees Poverty)
Rachel Pieh Jones (Bridges for the Brave)
Constance Dykhuizen (My Stories)
Harriet A. Long (What Could, and Might, Happen Next)
K Mayfield (Consumerism Does Not Equal Change)
Becca of Exile Fertility (Blessed Are the Peacemakers)
Fritz Liedtke (Skeletons in the Closet)
Abby Norman (What Teacher Movies Don’t Teach)
Kevin Hargaden (Church Leadership)
Sarah Bessey (In Which I am Not Much of a War Photographer)
Kelley Nikondeha (Tandem Stories)
Darren Prince (Part 1: On Mutuality and Acceptable Distances; Part 2: How to Be a War Photographer)
Now that I have compiled it all together, I must say: this is a good-lookin’ list right here. I suggest you start clicking.
[…] War Photographer Series. […]
[…] I know not all bloggers, writers, thinkers, travelers, have the opportunity to develop language skills or the time to invest in long-term relationships. I don’t expect them to, we are each called to a different style of living and working. But, if they plan on writing about a cross-cultural experience, if they plan on getting involved in a local community, I believe they have the responsibility to at least do research, to be clear about their lack of cultural competency, and to ask questions and be careful of assumptions. To read how some people are trying to do this, check out D.L. Mayfield’s series War Photographers. […]
[…] War Photographer Series- D.L. Mayfield […]
[…] so many other issues to be discussed and addressed under the banner of writing about the poor and sharing the stories of others, but I think if we start with these two questions, which I set before us as a sincere challenge, we […]
[…] War Photographer Series. […]