Melania Trump fed a pack of angry wolves on social media yesterday. In the days prior to this feeding frenzy, the pack of wolves were focused in their hunt for a better world. There was a predator separating pups from their parents. The pack was organized and methodical. The predator was starting to lose support. The children were almost free. Weeks of focus and planning and all it took to distract the wolves was a jacket. In a world of black and white, we have no ability to see a touch of grey.
When I saw the news footage break of Melania wearing the jacket, I knew how the day was going to progress on social media, the news, and talk radio. We would know little to nothing of the content of her visit. What she said, her reflections, her opinions. I knew the momentum of goodwill she built with others by joining all the living first ladies in solidarity would be lost. There would be other things lost as well as this became the only thing we would speak of.
The focus that made progress would be lost. The focus that was just starting to affect change and scare the GOP into openly disagreeing with Trump. We stopped talking about children being drugged and abused, we stopped talking about the orgs that need money and volunteers. There was no more discussion about ICE. We fed on a jacket and in the midst of that, policies and agendas moved forward quietly.
We do this all the time. Sometimes it seems we can only focus on a headline. The rest of the proverbial newspaper is lost on us. Our appetites feed on outrage and sweetness without focus and nothing changes. At least nothing good changes.
Pope Feeds Hungry Wolves Candy
Many liberals and progressives swooned when the pope told a crying little boy that his atheist daddy was not burn in hell or be punished to purgatory. The wolves were offered sweet candy and they completely forgot his statement in which transgender people were compared to a holocaust. While satisfied with the sticky sweetness of the viral video, few noticed that the pope claimed that single moms and LGBTQIA families are not real families.
Clarity in the Grey
I am not saying her jacket is not newsworthy. It is.
I am not saying the statement on the jacket does not warrant discussion. It does.
I am saying that we have become a vicious and easily distracted pack. We are supposed to be the side that is for equality. The side that believes black lives matter, rape culture needs to be addressed, victims need to be given the benefit of the doubt, and so much more.
Yet when we go into a feeding frenzy, we are rabid and scary beasts. I’ve seen people I used to respect say some of the most vicious and horrific things about another person yesterday. We have a double standard in the black and white and to see the contrast we need the grey.
There is some suggestion that the First Lady may be abused, isolated, and manipulated. Yet the response to that is writers like Jess Zimmerman will tell us in her writings that even though abuse is bad and horrific, if it is happening to Melania, “she doesn’t deserve it.” The “it” Zimmerman refers to is compassion and aid. At the moment we embrace mindsets like that, it is we who have made domestic violence, sexual assault, and other matters a partisan issue. We have determined who deserved help at the hands of a monster and who does not. We have hurt and silenced countless victims in that moment and created less allies for them.
The Message of Feeding Frenzies and B&W Thought
If you are a parent who’s child is separated from you and that child may be facing molestation, dangerous drugging, abuse, and trauma, a mere jacket will distract us from your plight. If you are a black person in fear for your life when you get pulled over by a police officer, we will walk away from you if you do not use the right tones and give us proper gratitude. If you are LGBTQIA+, we will ignore the threatening positions and language of a leader of an organization with over 1.2 billion members and influence of policies in multiple countries as long as that leader says nice things to kids in public. If you are an abused spouse with a young child or a victim of sexual assault, we will first have to determine if you are worthy and deserving of our help.
My Banner Photo
“Wolves After the Rain”. This photo has been well received at a gallery showing leading to multiple offers swiftly. I decided to make the shot monochrome. The grey shading added nuance and beauty that enhanced the scene and made these three majestic animals look even more glorious. In photography we call this type of photograph black and white. In the graphic art and printing world there is another term that is used often. Greyscale. Shades of grey with no absolute black and no absolute white allows you to see the nuances of the detail. A strong contrast of absolute black and white and we would not be able to make out subjects, focus, and detail.
I am grateful these wolves did not see my and my family as a threat. If they had, I would not have been able to take this lovely photograph.
It is right for us to have our moral positions. It is important we call out that which hurts people. But we need to ensure there is at least a touch of grey for us to see the details. It will help us focus on the proper subjects.
May we not be rabid wolves. Wolves can restore broken ecological systems. The ecological system in America is broken. We need to heal this ecological nightmare. But to do so, we also need focus and an ability to see the details.