“The good you do today, will often be forgotten – do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough – give your best anyway.”
– Mother Teresa
I took some pictures and wrote some stuff, and made some progress. It’s never enough progress, of course.
This is my first year as a working mom. I live in a fog that soaks through my heart, pricking constantly – is this worth it? Can I justify the hours and investment I pour into this – or would the world be better off if I stayed home with the kids? I never know.
I’m frustrated with the lack of visible impact as my documentaries spread through the country, shared by strangers without comment. Am I opening eyes, or just cluttering feeds? I’m frustrated with the snail’s pace of progress – juggling family and work hours, packing lunches, and answering emails. I’m frustrated that my aging body and eyeballs can’t shoot for 14 hours straight and bounce back the next day to do it again. I’m frustrated that it still takes me 60 hours to process a session.
I understand that for big change, we need small and steady wins, but – I have the patience of a three-year-old.
This is why I have to remind myself, every day, that even the greatest artists have only one lifetime to make the work they do. Even those who inspire revolutionary social change must accumulate decades of failures punctuated by small wins.
We all feel the gap – not just artists. When it comes to social change, all of us are beginners. When it comes to do-goodery, none of us are certain that what we do is making an impact.
Our world, our country, our policies – they aren’t very good. But our intentions – the idea of ‘America the Free‘ is beautiful. Our intentions are good enough that we can tell – that what we have made of this country isn’t good enough. It’s a disappointment to us.
Our fight against racism, bigotry, judgement, and oppression, it moves so slow. Often, it stops moving. It regresses. How then, do we avoid feeling paralyzed by the overwhelming work left to be done? How do we get back up and stagger on?
We look back. We see our progress so far. We see how far we have come.
With a vision of our ideal society, we must rise, and fight, and fall, and think, and rise again until the sum of our efforts nudge the world toward something better.
And how do we know that the fight we are taking on is the path to progress? How do we know doing it right, that our time wouldn’t be better spent on something else?
Well, I guess we don’t.
The path to progress starts with us accepting that our work might not make a difference. And then we work as hard as we can anyway.
The world has enough photographers. It has enough storytellers.
But I make photos of people and record their experiences anyway. And I ask people to share them, and hope someone will read them. If I do it just right – they will understand something they didn’t understand before.
Because even though the world is overflowing with too many with words and images and gadgets and entertainment and to-do’s and read-me’s, we are still starving for compassion.
This is how compassion is made. This is the only way I know how to create it, anyway.
Is to remember that the only way to move forward is to keep our voices loud and our action steady. We must accept that most or even all of our attempts will be ignored, they will be criticized, they will fail. Only then will our little wins grow and succeed. This is the only way the world we live in can become as good as our ambitions.
“It takes a while. It’s normal to take a while. And you just have to – Fight. Your way. Through that.”
– Ira Glass
If you don’t know where to start, 100% of Ashia Ray Photography’s profits in 2016 fund the Invisible Obstacles Series, raising awareness about children in foster care & other do-goodery projects like this one.