A Quest for Harmony – Weekly Photo Challenge

“It’s not the quest of finding who is right or wrong… it’s about what do you really stand for”

Shivangi Lavaniya



This week the venerable Smithsonian Institute opened its National Museum of African American History and Culture.  A slave cabin from South Carolina, similar to the one I captured in the photo above, was dissembled and reassembled piece by piece.  At its opening, the museum was dedicated by our country’s first black president. Whether you are an Obama fan or not, the significance of the moment should not be lost on anyone.

Despite tremendous progress, it is a troubled time in our history. Battle lines are drawn and judgements being made.   Protests erupt and the media fans the flames.  Everyone has an opinion shaped by personal experience which oftentimes varies exponentially from their neighbor’s.   FDR’s famous inaugural speech seems particularly pertinent to our present situation. …let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” 

It is time we addressed the roots of our fear. The simple truth is that most of us want one set of rules imposed equally upon all. Most of us want fairness in our system of justice as issues are explored and resolved. Most of us want bigots to be silenced and incendiary rabble-rousers to go away.  Most of us want less speculation by the media and more emphasis on objective reporting. Most of us want our energies focused on fighting common enemies rather than each other.

Sadly, the fears of many are not unjustified, but most of us believe they can be addressed and overcome with understanding and a focus on change.  There will always be some number of bad citizens, bad cops and bad judgement in the line of fire. But most of us are inherently good. Personally, I choose to believe that the goodness of the majority will rule. I choose to believe that our advances will eventually take us to a harmony that is not yet beyond our reach. What about you? What do YOU really stand for?

84 thoughts on “A Quest for Harmony – Weekly Photo Challenge

  1. Beautifully written essay Tina ~ one of the most important issues we are facing, and I am also very optimistic as I do believe the youth of America do not fear and put their energies into creating greatness and fighting for something together rather than tearing into each other.

  2. Beautiful post, Tina. Your words are wise and true: “But most of us are inherently good. Personally, I choose to believe that the goodness of the majority will rule. I choose to believe that our advances will eventually take us to a harmony that is not yet beyond our reach.” I share your basic optimism in humanity and wishes for the future.

  3. a very poignant post, Tina. a very insightful image…
    i think change happens one person at a time… to be compassionate and kind can be mandated, but that wouldn’t necessarily trigger the change. however, if only one person chooses to be compassionate and kind, that is already a very positive step in the right direction, imnasho.

  4. This post reflects the #1 concern I think we are confronting as a society. The disfunction is also reflected in our current political arena and when you add the two together, it seems like a whirlpool sucking us all under. If it was a corporation, there would be a meeting of department heads and people would go forth to solve the situation. When you add all the entities into this I’m not sure how it will improve any time soon, and that is scary and sad because I don’t think the average person feels comfortable with the current environment.

    • Sadly I agree w you Judy. But the thing you left out is that if this was a corporation some heads would roll and they would start over with a clean slate. If only we had that choice!!

  5. Occasionally, we go through the tumult of the times. The volatility, the angry, raised voices of the moment does not compare to the years before the Civil War when it was far worst. Former President Bush said it rightly that a great nation should not run away from its history and its past. Moreover, we shouldn’t avoid our responsibility for the present and future. Too many find it surprising he said those wise words. And, many finding it surprising it was he who signed the original legislation to begin this museum.

    We all, unfortunately, fall back into believing, hearing and read what we choose to believe, hear and read. It’s partly driven by the digital world we live in, that we are much too quick to jump to conclusions and draw hasty generalizations rather than critically analyze like we did before the internet era.

    Nice post, Tina.

  6. I fervently hope you are right that most of us want these things. Recent evidence puts that in question but, like you, I want to believe that we can right this ship. This weekend’s opening of a very important and necessary museum is a positive step.

  7. Thanks for the great photo of an interesting and humbling subject and for the thought-provoking post. Let’s hope that despite the lopsided machinations of political procedures, even in a so-called democracy, a process that is fair is able to go forward in the coming weeks. Of course, even defining what is fair is contested terrain. Why is it that the relatively powerful so often like to claim victimhood?

    • I love your comment on this one NBI. Your “lopsided machinations of political procedures” is a wonderful tun of phrase that I will definitely steal! And of course you’re right, whatever else happens we can be proud of our democracy even if we end up with some bizarre options along the way!

  8. First of all, I love the Smithsonian museum. I wish I lived closer or could travel there more often. 🙂
    Tina …Hope is what we have to have. Hope that the good will rise over evil. Hope that things will get better. Hope that we are no different from each other as we all want the same things out of life. Hope that, one day, all of this will become a place full of love and kindness for all. We must not lose hope.
    Your photograph is striking. It carries a wordless message.
    Have a FANTASTIC week …
    Isadora 😎

  9. Well you are right – we had similar posts indeed!
    And I really enjoyed reading this and the cabin photo is a work of art! So many nice details to take in and I zoomed around to see this and that! I look forward to seeing the reassembled cabin at the museum someday!
    We would have gone this opening weekend, but the traffic and crowds – um – no way!

      • Well I have not – I have only been to maybe 8 of the Smithsonian museums. See to go to more – and will include the holocaust one – my fav so far is the postal museum – have you been to that one? They used to have a teacher’s night where the tour included good bags and lesson ideas – it was really wonderful.

  10. I’m an optimist Tina but … have great difficulty at times understanding quite how FAR humankind has travelled from respect ,decency, fairness ,tolerance , oh I could go on …
    Lovely choice of photo Tina .

  11. Such an important and powerful piece Tina; thank you. I watched the broadcast of the opening of the Museum and was impressed by the words of your President. I hope to visit it one day. It’s hard to be optimistic these days and I am thinking of how to respond to this photo challenge in a way that is as meaningful as yours is. Best wishes as always. Hope all is well with you 🙂

  12. Very thoughtful piece, Tina. Agree with you that equality is what we all want, and the world would be a better place with it. Then again, there will always be competition, and some of us can get quite emotional when it comes to that. Hate rarely solves anything. The more we listen and love, the more we can work together.

  13. Thank you for an inspiring and energizing post, Tina. I was just wondering what my quest is now — and your thoughts will lead me to a higher level, as I ponder! Our nation has had a bumpy path toward equity and equality, but we continue to make corrections and proceed toward “a more perfect union.” I choose to remain optimistic, and believe the collective wisdom of this country will be reflected in the outcome of the election, November 8.

  14. Very well said Tina. It is historic to have a black president, but we mustn’t forget that he is himself a man of great diversity – given that he was brought up by his white mother & grandmother in Hawaii, and he spent some of his childhood years in Indonesia. I love your simple photo. It fits the words perfectly.

    • You’re absolutely right WC – interesting that we all think of him as a black man but in fact his heritage is much more complex. Thanks for the compliment on the photo. I thought seriously about going with a sepia version but wanted to show the muted colors of the small room.

  15. I so want to believe what you believe…and we must not give up hope. I believe Gandhi’s words, that we should ourselves be the change we want to see in the world…is the only way

    • Thanks Sally. I agree with you about the power of education but people must first be willing to learn. The new museum is a great start. Charleston, once the most prevalent location for slaves arriving from Africa for sale in the US, is now planning its own slave museum. Amazing considering we are in the very heart of the south where the entire economy once depended on slavery.

  16. I’m not so optimistic. It seems to me that humankind has always in conflict with one another – greed, hatred, intolerance, fear, bigotry, inequality – so many excuses, so many reasons. We will destroy this planet unless we destroy ourselves first, long before it burns up. We can each do our bit, but I am not hopeful.

    • Oh dear Jude, I do hope you’re wrong. There have indeed always been horrors in the world. I can think of several without having to think very hard. But somehow it seems good always triumphs eventually. Destroying ourselves or the planet are both relatively recent possibilities thanks to industrialization and to the evolution of weapons technology. Frightening for sure but without hope we are ALL lost!

      • I hope I am wrong too! I’m a pretty optimistic person, but the older I get the more I despair about the behaviour of the human race. Let us hope that future generations learn to be more tolerant.

  17. I think Obama will go down in history as one of the greatest U.S. presidents. Monstrous Trump and the “movement” behind him scares the heck out of me, but all I can do is watch in horrified fascination from across the border and hope he gets tossed out on his ear.

    • Well, I was trying to stay away from politics with this one, and focus more on the issues that I think have created the kind of atmosphere we’re engrossed in now (with GROSS being the key part of THAT word!) At the moment, lucky you for being outside of our borders!!

  18. Great post Tina. I also believe that each person can make a difference in their environment. One never knows the impact of the the small things we each do for others each and every day….. a smile, a thank you, a kind word.

    • Thanks Dina – glad you’re with me on this one. This is actually not HDR. I used photoshop and blended the same photo twice, so that I could get the outdoor light darkened enough to work correctly with the dark interior. It was definitely a challenge!

  19. Tina, this is a wonderful post and very different from your usual entries. I love reading your thoughts about the current discordance that is occurring in our world. I pray regularly that one day the world will right itself again and the scales will shift back to a harmonic co-existence.

    • Many thanks Grace. yes this one was quite different for me. I thought long and hard about posting it but felt strongly enough that I did so. We can hope goodness wins in the long term.

  20. Pingback: Quest: Shopping Trolley | What's (in) the picture?

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