Extending a hand to those in trouble, rescuing the dying and helping the injured is a form of humanitarianism, unrelated to love of country or people. Do not demean the value of life; it commands a broader, more equal dignity.
I recently went to see Ai Weiwei’s work at the Hirschorn in DC. I went with a friend, and since she had picked the itinerary for the day, I had little knowledge of what I was about to see. As it turned out, the whole day was spent discussing and seeing the theme of philosophy, spirituality, free will, beauty, innovation, creativity and much more. It was an awesome day, full of beauty and wisdom. And seeing the sculptures in person made it even more powerful.
The above quote by Ai Weiwei really hit home to me because I have been pondering how we as humans help other human beings in need. As an artist, Ai Weiwei uses his visual creativity to remind people of things that should not be forgotten. Much of his exhibit has to do with powerfully transformative sculptures of the earthquake in China several years ago that killed hundreds of schoolchildren. One in particular was a snake on the ceiling made from backpacks. He got this idea from seeing the children’s backpacks strewn across the schoolyard after the earthquake, never to be reclaimed.
I was not to know how close this exhibit would come to mirroring something that happened right here in America. But it seems to me that the “snake” could also be used for the 20 children that died last Friday. And I want the value of those lives to not be demeaned. Indeed, I want the value of all the lives lost to violence, war, natural disasters and disease not to be demeaned. But somehow, it is impossible to grasp them all at once. So a snake of backpacks becomes a symbol of all these lives cut short. And we remember.