I don't generally like to say much - publicly, anyway - about politics. This most likely arises from the fact that people on both sides have a tendency to become extreme about their position, precluding any kind of dialogue. And, as you might imagine, real dialogue is something that is very important to me. But I want to say a few words here about one phenomenon in current American politics that has left me utterly perplexed: the popularity of presidential candidate Donald Trump. Until recently, I was unable to take his brash, seemingly racist, almost surely sexist, statements seriously. I've thought until this point that he is simply putting on an "entertainer act" in order to garner support for his campaign. It's been difficult for me to imagine a "President Trump" knowing how to engage in dialogue with other world leaders, or participate in any kind of negotiation where some degree of compromise is a necessary skill.
However, yesterday I read an article in our local paper, originally published in USA Today, that shed some light on Trump's current popularity, especially among quite a few members of the Millennial Generation. Here is what journalist Paul Singer says in his article entitled: "An Unfiltered Trump Remains on Top":
" 'The enduring lesson from this (campaign) season is that authenticity matters,' said Alex Smith of the College Republicans. 'Young voters were decisive in the 2012 general election, and will be so again in 2016, comprising 20% of the electorate. What is the one trait that matters to them? Being who you say you are. For #nofilter Millennials, a contest between two candidates who are fearless in what they say and how they say it is likely to yield very interesting results.' "
So I guess the "raw and unfiltered" factor is increasingly significant in our culture. For me it parallels the popularity of "reality shows" and "reality documentaries" that portray people and relationships as they REALLY ARE, at least on the surface level of emotions. In fact, I've seen in my own recent ventures into iPhone videography that viewers apparently LIKE to see a bit of camera-shake, or listen to a few verbal stumbles or excess wind gusts blowing on the microphone. It makes them feel as though they are RIGHT THERE, rather than watching an overly-slick, overly-professional movie made by an unrealisticly-perfect narrator.
I enjoy producing "raw and unfiltered" landscape photos, with a minimum of special effects, and with very little photoshop processing, except to produce an image that is as close as possible to what my eye actually saw. I don't use a tripod much because I'm often shooting from awkward angles - lying belly-down on a lake, standing in a stream, or setting my camera in a trough below ground-level. The result is a series of photos that professionals may scoff at, but which the general public seem to enjoy.
However, I'm not sure I'm ready to apply the same aesthetic to a political candidate who aspires to become a world leader. Do we really need more raw-and-unfiltered brashness, extreme statements, and unapologetically polarized thinking in the world? I don't believe so.
Photo: Emerald Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO, January 25, 2016
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Stephen Hatch, M.A. is a spiritual teacher and photographer from Fort Collins, Colorado. His approach is contemplative, inter-spiritual, and Earth-based.