19 March 2011

helplessness: time stands still

I had the chance to see Time Stands Still with my mother about two months ago.

Made me a think a lot about a lot of what is currently going on in the world, and how people of different generations respond to it in different ways.

After seeing footage of Japan on the news, all I could think about was this play. My friends told me how many videos and photos were being shared on twitter and facebook (I am not on either anymore), and how many were saying about how sorry they felt.

Photography and videos taken during times of distress, war, and destruction: does it ever reach a point where it is too much?

While it can promote people who view them to make a difference, how many who share these images and videos really take the step to contribute, donate, or help? By sharing these images on a social network with such extreme, is a line crossed?  Does it become exploitive?  Invasive?


They'd lost children in that mess, and there I was like a ghoul with a camera shooting away.
I live off the suffering of strangers. I've built a career on the sorrows of people I don't know and I will  never see again...

That's not true. You've helped them in ways you can't see

Have I? Have I really?


I know it crosses my mind, and it must cross the minds of other people-

 How on earth can I even begin to help? Where do I start?

You can donate money to the right places, of course.  I do this almost always. And if you haven't donated to Japan Red Cross already, you should give any amount, large or small-- because every little bit helps. So if the images drive people to actually donate, then for that I am thankful.

But at the end of the day, the thought of these situations-- seeing these images and videos-- makes my stomach drop.  It's this feeling-- normally an empty feeling-- but in situations like this, feels full.

It's a certain kind of helplessness.

Because I see the images, the videos, then donate-- but I can't really DO anything.

I can't physically act, I can't physically help. And I don't know where to start, because I feel so removed.


You could have been helping them.

was helping them. I was taking their picture.

How is THAT helping them?

By gathering evidence to sh--
If it weren't like people like me, the ones with the cameras, who would know? Who would care?


To physically help, one needs the skills, the training, the knowledge. I've researched this for years-- that there is nothing I can do to physically help in situations like this.

 Those who are trained to help, are there physically helping. All I can do--anyone can do-- is have faith in them, and be thankful that they have these skills and abilities.

But it's the images, the videos during times like this-- after a certain point, what does their function become?


Time Stands Still, which is written by playwright Donald Margulies, was just nominated by a Tony Award. Laura Linney plays Sarah, a photojournalist, who has spent most of her time photographing the war.

The best scenes which highlight how this is discussed are below:


Start at 

I only hope that the sharing of images and videos during times of distress on social networks truly do drive people to act and make a difference.

How to Donate:

How to send a wire transfer to Red Cross Japan
American Red Cross (Direct Link to Donation)
Save the Children Federation

Text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 to Red Cross which will help those affected by the earthquake.

How to Help:
Doctors Without Borders

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