The romantic movement responded to the constraints of the early industrial era and enlightenment, a way for the mind to break free from the machine. Purity in terror or love or freedom — expressed in art and movements like nationalism — dominated the 19th century psyche.
What’s old is new again, I suppose. That shouldn’t be surprising though.
Today we face a new confining threat to our identities, the digital definition of who we are. Online identity is expressed through the social graph, and the “big data” that it yields.
We confront hard truths about ourselves, including how much or little we are liked, and why. There’s nothing quite as humbling as realizing people like you for your cute dog instead of your brilliant political expositions.
Ads pushing products and services targeted by behavioral data tell us what we should buy. We fiddle with privacy settings yet find our lives read to us online, searchable, indexed, and found, not by people, but by corporate databases seeking to expand sales.
On Tuesday night, I sat at the Livingston table for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)’s 100th anniversary. As I blogged a few weeks ago, the ADL was started to fight antisemitism by my great grand uncle Sigmund Livingston. The keynote speaker was his excellency Rosen Plevneliev, president, Republic of Bulgaria.
Part of the evening included a retelling of Bulgaria’s resistance against Nazi Germany during World War II, an effort that saved its population of 48,000 Jews. Bulgaria saved these lives, not by direct conflict, but through red tape dallying and eventually exposing Nazi demands to export the Jews through the American media.
This commitment to basic human rights in the face of the greatest evil and bully we have seen in modern times just stuns the mind.
Frankly, if you care about change, if you believe that people can make a difference, this sterling example of principle stands out. It’s what we live for, a beautiful testimony to what unwillingness to yield to wrongness can achieve.
Last week we talked about antisemitism, hate and intolerance, and this week Boston suffered a brutal terrorist attack, an act of hate. Then we witnessed the fallout online with the autotweet debates, which took some pretty uncivil turns. Today, let’s focus on beauty and positive action.
Every year I make the journey down to the tidal basin to visually record the brief yet stunning presence of the cherry tree blossoms. These are some of my more popular photos when I share them, usually marking the arrival of Spring
Today, you will find a collection of 10 of my cherry blossom photos from the past five years as curated by Jess Ostroff. Please enjoy their simple beauty.
If you want to go further and take action against hate, I’ve installed the Cafepress PressIt plugin, which allows you to scroll over any of these images, click on the “PressIt” button, and buy something with your preferred cherry blossom image. I receive 10% of the sale, and will donate all of my proceeds to the Anti-Defamation League, which per my antisemitism post, is a cause that fights racial intolerance, and was started by my great grand uncle Sigmund Livingston. To further incentivize you to make a purchase for tolerance today, I will match up to $1000 in proceeds.
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