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Riverdale: A Story of Two Very Different Nights, and Two Very Different Kinds of Light


“Here are two sets of photographs–juxtaposed on two very different nights. The first is the last night of the encampment before the police raid, Tuesday, June 12th. This was a magical evening, permeated by laughter, play, music, work–community–everything that we all pretend characterizes America and American values. But this night is no pretense. The pretense to democracy appears with the chain link fence–and the enormous, energy consuming, expensive lights Aqua America has erected to make sure–along with the 24/7 security guards–protesters are kept out. The contrast could not be more stark. In the first set, we have spray-painted messages like “Spread the love” on the cement platforms left by mobile homes already moved lout of the park. That night a new group of young activists had moved into the community. They brought with them not only provisions, but skill and the readiness to get to the vital work of playing with the park’s kids, helping to build a fire, playing music. Please look at the two very different kinds of light–the first the firelight of the big campfire we had built after dinner just for the sake of enjoying the time we had together–just for the sake of building a community, of ending a day WELL, of talking with one another to organize for the next day, to make sure everyone’s needs were met. And look at the work that is still being done in the glow of that firelight. Building barricades out of the structures of abandoned mobile homes, painting then. Now look at the second set of lights–impersonal, surveillant, glaring with not an once of warmth or purpose other than to protect the assets of a corporation whose mission it is to make water the most precious commodity possible so that they can make larger and larger profits. How ironic is it that the purpose of these lights is to surveil a community razed, bulldozed, flattened, and crushed? The firelight of the first set reflects something of beauty. The gigantic spy- lighting of the second set reflects only unvarnished greed. But what connects the two disparate sets of pictures is not merely the variety of light, but the faces of two little girls. Playing with a puppy in the first set, mugging for the camera just outside the fence and the ever-watchful guards for the second. We, as a society have a moral duty to insure that the most important lights–the ones that shine in the eyes of our children–are not vanquished by despair. But the future we are preparing for them is one that is saturated by waste, loss, negligence, and greed. We cannot say, on the one hand, that we love and value our children, and on the other, leave them a world that looks like this. We cannot say we desire that there be a future, and then refuse to see that the light in our own eyes is made invisible by the fact that we have cast our gaze downwards–so that we don’t have to look, so that we don’t have to see what we are doing. “

From Riverdale: A Story of Two Very Different Nights, posted by Wendy Lynne Lee on 6/26/2012 (55 items)

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Wendy Lynne Lee | Professor of Philosophy, Bloomsburg University

 

2 Comments to Riverdale: A Story of Two Very Different Nights, and Two Very Different Kinds of Light

  1. The pictures should themselves be up soon, and you can also locate them at:

    http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.963357008059.2242386.38810784&type=3

    Wendy Lynne Lee

  2. Sorry for the missing photos earlier. We had a little quirk in our photo importer.

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