They say image is everything.  

Sometimes, the most innocent thing can become a visual that takes on a life of its own. 

I think about the Nick Sandman episode, where he stood face-to-face with the Native American guy, beating the drum and singing. The kid (Sandman) wasn’t actually doing anything wrong. In fact, he was being kind to the guy and handling a very awkward situation better than I probably would have. 

Nick Sandman

But the visual looked like a smart ass kid, WEARING A MAGA HAT (and THAT was the prime motivator of the image response), smirking at an older, “more ethnic” gentlemen, appearing to be making fun of him. 

That’s the story everybody ran with. And that visual ruined the kid’s life for a minute…up until he got the two-hundred-million-dollar settlement. 

The point is, a picture paints a thousand words. 

There’s a famous shot of Muhamad Ali standing over Sonny Liston, appearing to be taunting him. He was not taunting Sonny. His stance was simply the follow-through of a well-timed punch. And if you watch the video, he immediately recoiled from that stance and went back to his corner for the count. 

But a photographer clicked the right button, at the perfect time, and Ali’s legend grew, based on that still shot. 

My own grandfather was there, watching the 5 guys lift the famous flag, on Iwo Jima. He was part of the detail that took it to the top of the hill. He was even asked to join the lifting effort. But by the time he flicked his cigarette and walked over there, they already had it up and placed…and there was a picture that would help define the American spirit during WWII, and maybe for all time. 

Cameras are fickle creatures. And anybody who has ever been in front of one, for any length of time, knows how unforgiving they can be. The wrong lighting or the wrong angle or the wrong shot, at the wrong time, can make you look like a fool. And the world can judge you based on that ONE errant snap, you weren’t quite ready for. 

We drew or painted our heroes in the past. And we were able to infuse whatever characteristics we wanted them to have; courage, humility, fortitude, humor, self-confidence. We could give them all those traits by painting the lines and writing the stories the way we wanted them written and painted. 

But in the world of every living human having a camera on their person, 24-hours-a-day, we all have a million different versions of ourselves, taken at different times, at different weights, with different hair styles and clothes on. 

We use filters and delete the bad ones and do your best to create an overall positive image of ourselves. But this generation is the most photographed generation in the history of the human race. And we take a lot of our cues – maybe more than any generation before us – from visual images.  

Sometimes lighting and staging goes wrong. None of this is absolute science. People are always trying to get it right. And I grant grace for stuff like that. 

But for the life of me, I can’t get this Joe Biden image from last week, out of my head. 

I know that HE didn’t pick the lights or the colors or any of that. I think we all know that he just walked out there and read what was written for him. But that image; the red hue glowing ominously over those two Marines and the old man, ranting about the evils of half the people in the country, was really, REALLY creepy. And unfortunately for the people who planned and executed it, it will linger for a while. 

Don’t get me wrong. I thought it was badass…if it had been the set of some dystopian thriller, set in the future, with the corrupt leader demonizing his nemesis. 

But this was the President of the United States. Not talking about how positive things were in the country. Not rallying people to the great things that are on the horizon. Not leading us toward that better place, all Americans believe in and strive toward. 

Instead, he was warning us about the people we live and work around. Warning us about boogie men lurking around every corner, in red hats and ready to vote for the wrong people. 

*Insert dramatic music here* Dun, dun, dun

Look, I’m sure there are extremists out there who have just been waiting for a good excuse to arm up and wear camo around all day. But most of these dangerous, “Maga Republicans” are just people who are tired of the bullshit. 

How about taxes that stay low and don’t fluctuate wildly every time a D gets voted into office? How about we fix this healthcare nonsense? How about people who actually break federal laws get prosecuted…no matter what they’re last name is? 

How about we get our energy policy together so that we don’t constantly grovel at the feet of people who hate us, to keep gas prices under $5 a gallon? How about no more wars of the willing?

How about we get to the content-of-the-character part of judging human beings, rather than going back to labeling everybody based on their skin tone? How about we have a coherent immigration policy…that we follow?

These seem like simple things. And these are the issues I see “Maga” people talking about. 

Nobody wants white supremacy or male supremacy, or any of those weird things people who need monsters around to justify their own insanity, say are happening. 

Most of us just want America – the best idea maybe in human history – to live up to its potential again. That’s what MAGA means. 

But the acronym has now been hijacked by what looked like a Sith Lord, the other night. 

I guess they’re right…image is everything.   


PS: This post is exactly a thousand words. You’re welcome. 







4 thoughts on “A THOUSAND WORDS …

  1. I’ve been waiting on you to say something. I was shocked that no one was saying anything about the optics and content of that speech.Thank you!Traci Sterling Bishir 615-944-1807 Sent from iCloud


  2. Well played. My sister is a professional photographer, and anytime they say the camera doesn’t lie she laughs and says that the photographer is biased before they click the button. I vote for your plan to fix the obvious without the political games.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I certainly appreciate everything you write. While we might not agree on every detail, we could certainly be friends. Thanks for the clarity in your writing. For your honesty and courage to say what needs to be said. And for giving us things to think about.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’d give a thousand words for the capture of a moment in time from an old “Brownie or Polaroid ” camera rather than any digitally processed series of “moments in time” … picture that ☕️😎🕊Good on you RH ⚖️


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