More than a profession or a job description


To say we are one thing is to say we are not another. In preparing for his talk, Bassam Tariq says, “Here I say, ‘I’m a blogger, filmmaker and butcher.’ The hardest part of my talk was saying that I was x, y and z. I have worked hard to dodge these kinds of labels. But when you are giving a five-minute talk, you have to simplify and pray that people will then read these annotations.”

All to often content is created to fit the Zeitgeist, or “spirit of the times”, in an effort to be relevant. But isn’t that only going to perpetuate preconceptions, stereotypes or world views.

To give you an example of what I mean, in Bassam’s talk he describes creating a movie in Pakistan titled These Birds Walk. In it he tells a story of Pakistan’s poorest children. He was encouraged to use his movie to raise awareness of drones, target killings, and the impact they are having on people. “To make the film ‘more relevant,’ essentially reducing these people who have entrusted us with their stories into sociopolitical symbols.” But, he didn’t.

Instead he told the story of street children trying to create some semblance of family.

I don’t know Bassam Tariq, what he stands for, or who he is. But in his talk he represented people who are more than a profession, or a job description, or a title, or a religion… These people help to bridge social divides.

Breaking from a norm, while still holding respect for traditions and the people who stand before us, improves opportunities for everyone.