The little picture…

It’s often a good thing for people to be able to see or understand the “big picture,” when it comes to certain things.

There’s a saying for when a person is so focused on the minutia of something, that they forget or simply lose focus on the big picture, the end product that they desire.

It’s said that these folks can’t see the forest for the trees.

In being so focused on the minor details, the trees, they miss out on the greater sum of what those trees are a part of, the end result, or the forest.

If you went to a baseball game and just focused on the third baseman, without looking at anything else but him, you’d potentially miss out on a really good game.

Every now and then though, you would catch something that others would likely miss, something that the third baseman is doing or did that you wouldn’t notice, if you were paying attention to the pitcher throwing a pitch, or the flight of the ball after it leaves the bat.

There are times when looking away from the big picture might be helpful. It might even change your view on what you think about that big picture.

Sometimes, the little pictures offer much more than the big picture ever could.

I believe that some of why this blog is somewhat entertaining to some people, is because I’ve offered people a glimpse at the little picture that can’t be had from reading a newspaper account of a bigger picture incident.

When I wrote about a person who was shot in North City, and then months later, about another person who was shot, the posts got a lot of looks.

They got a lot of shares.

They weren’t popular because the big picture was outlandish, no. The big picture in these stories were that two people were shot on public streets in St. Louis City. One died and another survived.

Neither incident is unique. They are not unique worldwide and sadly, they are not unique locally.

People are shot every week in St. Louis, if not every day.

People die weekly here as a result of the violence we accept as normal in this sometimes depraved society of ours.

No, these posts weren’t popular because they were outlandish stories about something we seldom read about, rather, I believe that they were popular because they both showed readers the little picture.

The little pictures I showed you revealed that one victim was a mother. Her three young babies were in the car, mere feet away from her when she was suddenly shot as she pumped gas into her car.

The little picture showed the kindness of strangers, a man who tended to this woman, a stranger to him, as she lay dying on the parking lot. The kindness of the people in the store, who wanted to give things to the kids to keep them distracted, to keep them calm. It showed there was tension at first when I walked into that store, tension that only eased when I said I wanted to get something for the kids.

This shooting was a couple of weeks after Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson. Friction between the police and people in this area was palpable, to say the least.

Still, helping kids in a crisis is something we could all agree on, if only for a moment.

The little picture.

The victim in the second shooting was a little boy. A boy not unlike any other six year old boy.

A boy not unlike my own then six year old boy.

The news can tell you this. Media accounts told the boy’s age and that he was shot while he was riding in his family’s van. The family was at the park, enjoying a pleasant spring day. That’s all part of the big picture, the homicide.

The news can share some of the little picture, but, through no fault of their own, they can’t give you as much as people who were there.

Part of the little picture included my feelings as these events unfolded.

I’m aware that such an inside seat to a police officer’s mind is unusual.

I’m beyond the point in my life where I care what strangers think about me, so I’m comfortable speaking my mind or sharing my emotions.

It’s the emotion that’s often missing from the big picture. There is no feeling in generalizing.

The big picture doesn’t have to be gun violence.

The big picture might be immigration policy.

It might be a headline such as “Most Muslims Banned from the U.S.”

Many people can live with “Most Muslims Banned from the U.S.”

Many people couldn’t live with particular Muslims being banned from the U.S. though, if they knew the stories behind the people.

The little picture might include a Muslim soldier who served with our Army and can’t safely live in his native country now, or a five year old who lost his family to a bomb, through no fault of his own, or a father, who was so desperate to make a better life for his family, that he risked all of their lives spending days on a raft, adrift in an ocean, leaving behind his own home country because it’s simply unsafe.

Death is a very real outcome for many of these people.

Leaving their homeland is a no-brainer.

Their “little picture” stories need to be read. Their voices need to be heard, by somebody.

Big picture policies affect real people, just like bullets do.

Focusing on the big picture, something like national security, is fine, but the little pictures are important too.

The little pictures need to be taken into account before drastic changes are made.

Sometimes the littlest of pictures are in fact, the most important considerations of all.








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16 Responses to The little picture…

  1. I think the little pictures remind us of our shared humanity. Thank you for this.

  2. jgroeber says:

    I love the way you share the little picture from your point of view. It makes your point of view real to me, and every so often, I find myself almost seeing things through your eyes, or what I imagine to be your eyes. It’s helpful, this looking from new angles. Thank you.

  3. Touching, especially relative currently, and very beautiful. If we are ever to counter Corporate Capitalism, it will be by opening metric-focused eyes to the little picture. Thanks!
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

  4. Absolutely! The little pictures could make a difference. Sometimes people- or groups of people- can easily depersonalize a story until there is some personal connection. For some, it requires a loved one, but perhaps for many others, just seeing or hearing of the little pictures might be enough to change their view. I am thinking of a politician (and now I forget who) who was against gay marriage until he found out his own son was gay. Ideally, everyone would feel empathy without having to experience something personally, but clearly that’s not the case.

  5. hmunro says:

    Beautifully said. Thank you.

  6. PatchworkKat says:

    Reblogged this on The Patchwork Diaries and commented:
    Exactly this!! This is exactly why I was so distraught when I first heard the news of the immigration bans. Temporary or not, so many “little pictures” were shattered in a matter of moments. Really good read here. Definitely check it out.

  7. Joss says:

    If we are ever to change our hurting world, we must make it personal. It’s the stories of individuals, of families we need to absorb. The big picture is impersonal and objective, we hope, and separates us one from the other. Each tree has a story to share, each incident is personal. Thank you for saying it so well.

  8. Thank you, Don. You have an incredible ability to see the little pictures, and paint them with words for the rest of us.

  9. markbialczak says:

    People count, every little one of us, Don, and the big people ought not forget that when drawing up these policies. Well said as usual, my friend. I’m glad you speak out the way you do.

  10. julie says:

    Yours is a voice of common sense, in a calming tone, that would do well to be required reading.

  11. Love your perspective and it’s so true. The moments and the individuals really bring the bigger pictures home.

    I didn’t even make a joke about how you’ve had practice with the little picture. Good of me, no?

  12. Pingback: Words Are Lost  | The Patchwork Diaries

  13. Very true. It’s so desensitizing to think in terms of generalizations. However, when we put faces to tragedies, it’s amazing how quickly our focus shifts.

  14. Starz 1701 says:

    Thank you for sharing a photo of Omran. It is with great sadness that innocent children are growing up fenced in by walls of terrorism (ISIS, Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, Taliban). Although the majority of Muslims are against these barbaric organizations, individuals around the world continue to stereotype (big picture). When you break it down and look at the “small picture(s)” you understand that innocent Syrian-Arab-Sunni Muslim children such as Omran are of no threat at all.

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