‘I am a citizen of the world!’ is a statement often espoused by many of this new millennial generation. These small growing streams of cosmopolitans continue to rise above the biases of their own cultures and traditions. They have adopted a Universalist lens rooted in an authentic understanding of their own complex cultural identities, how we relate as humans and interconnect with those who are different than us. Kwame Anthony Appiah, a philosopher and cultural theorist who has written on Cosmopolitanism defines it as ‘universality plus difference’ and says ‘the boundary of your state is not the boundary of your moral concern’.
I recently came across many articles, documentaries and talks throughout the internet that spoke with the popular terms of “Colonizing Planet Mars”. I had to pause each time, because I felt really uncomfortable with the way the narrative of having step foot in this new planet in our solar system was being presented. Seeing mars, in a new way and all it’s spectacular grandeur, marked the start of a new age of human exploration in space and I believe can bring a revolution of values in human consciousness if we allow it to, and for that to happen we have to be extremely cognizant on how we frame the narrative of this next dimension of our human story on our planet.
This small project hoped to redefine culture shock as an opportunity to grow and challenge our assumptions we have of other people in this world. I wanted to utilize the power of photography and the power of stories by interviewing individuals to understand our human capacity to be resilient in times of challenges. We all hold a responsibility to fully understand this world by breaking down walls of stereotypes and recognizing the common humanity we all share.
We have forgotten how to live free and question our own narratives and assumptions. The spaces between us are filled by complex societal and cultural contexts that often breed ignorance and assumptions that eat away our humanity. Out of fear and misunderstanding we construct ‘the other’ in people living in our own communities to people living across the world. Conflict and violence are often propagated because of these misunderstandings. This projects raises awareness and fight against ignorance.
Hell is not merely a fiery story of eternal damnation written in a book; hell is what civilians experience in times of war. It is a lived experience that brings deep psychological trauma. War disintegrates the very social fabric people live in – their sense of safety, hope, and security. War separates, demonizes the other, and unleashes the worst in our human capacity to commit great evil.