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The Veil Of Naivety
Hiding From The Complexities Of Life
Growing up I spent most of my childhood in what I thought was a pretty normal upbringing. My parents had a house on a somewhat quiet street, close to the nearby elementary school, a nice back yard and a giant boat of a family car (a green Oldsmobile Delta 88 to be exact). I was the youngest of 6 kids. Both of my parents worked so my older siblings would take care of me, taking turns and molding me into something that one could fathom as a child. Life was… reasonably good.
As Chinese-Canadian, growing up in a small city where you are a visible minority, I can honestly say I didn’t have any issues. My friends didn’t care what my ethnicity was (only that they liked to tell me that they enjoyed Chinese food). Socially, my friends and I would go out in the evenings and weekends and play. We’d ride our bikes or run around the neighbourhood playing all sorts of games and just having fun. Just as you would expect a kid to do in those days. At school, I had the usual issues. Learning history, geography, math, science, languages (French in my case),etc… In the mornings we sang “Oh Canada” and said the “Lord’s Prayer” and listened to our Vice Principal recite the odd Bible scripture, but we never really thought much more of it once we were done. The subject of race, religion or social status never really crossed my path beyond that.
Growing up, a few of my friends were from varying ethnicities, others had different religions and social status’s. Though present, these topics were not brought to the forefront of our lives. Perhaps it was naivety on my part to think that these issues didn’t affect me while growing up. That the rest of the world was no different than how I had grown up. We weren’t so concerned with the issues.
As I got older, things started changing and affecting how we saw the rest of the world. Becoming a teenager and being more and more aware of the social issues started to creep into my life. At first they were more back burner issues. I knew they were happening, but they didn’t affect me directly. As I got older, I became much more aware of the issues of race, religion and social status. The world was much bigger than my naive brain had imagined it. Of course the internet was virtually non-existent (or at least very early in its infancy) at that time. There was much more control and censorship over things that I believe led to the naivety on my part.
Even now, many of the traditional things we’ve come to believe as contentious worldly topics are being added onto with new “norms”. I recently listened to a podcast where now people are beginning to disassociate themselves from those with certain political stripes. We seem to keep finding new ways to separate ourselves from others. Our need for distinctiveness has begun to lead us down a path of loneliness.
In some respects, I have to wonder how much of this was really there when I was younger. Was the world really this complicated back then? Or did we just believe it wasn’t and it really was? I think with the advent of the online presence and social media, we have become much more aware of the things that have have always existed. We’ve become more aware of our differences and the idea that we can hide somewhat anonymously hide behind a digital veil allows us to say the things that we’ve truly been wanting to say for so long. Now we can no longer hide our feelings. We can’t go back to the way things were. Pandora’s Box has now been opened and we now have to deal with the monsters and demons that we have unleashed unto ourselves.
But hope is not lost. With knowledge comes awareness. Awareness of the differences that make us who we are. Products of our upbringing, our environment and our heritage. I have and still maintain friendships with those who have different views to mine. Those views don’t separate us, but our common bonds do keep us friends. And quite frankly, that’s all I need.
I think about how the next generation is growing up. With the awareness that things are much more complicated than we ever experienced while growing up. Were we fortunate enough to not have to be bombarded with information compared to today? Have we unwittingly created an information overload for the next generation?
Growing up, you could take a piece of Lego out the box, one by one and follow the instructions to build your creation. Now imagine that someone comes by and dumps the entire 1,000 piece set onto you and hopes that you can follow the instructions. Imagine that one day, you won’t even have instructions and that someone else has dumped another 2,000 pieces onto you that have no relevance to what you're building. No wonder we’re all a little lost, angry and frustrated.
I remember my youth. I remember feeling protected and shielded from the world. And as much as many of us want to, we can’t do that for our next generation. So we have to help sort the Lego pieces for them. We can’t be as naive as we once were. The world is far too complicated for that, but perhaps we only have ourselves to blame for it.
Keep photographing life. Remember what you saw and what you experienced. Know that life is much more complicated than what we remember and what we want to experience. But when you look back at your photo’s, you’ll likely only remember only the simplest parts of them, and that’s what’s important.
“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
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