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Shadow and Light

Ibrahim Shaeer Jabbar Al-Jumaili (#173)


Ibrahim Shaeer Jabbar Al-Jumaili: pediatrician and professor of Medicine at Kirkuk University. Dr. Ibrahim S.J. Al-Jumaili, 55 years old, was murdered July 22, 2011, after he resisted attempts by four people to kidnap him, police said. Source: AFP, July 22, 2011

Artist Response

My early morning routine includes walking my dogs in the Spanish countryside where I live. For weeks my thoughts were not of the peaceful nature around me but of making a picture in memory of Al-Jumaili, where his environment was far from peaceful. What were my feelings and thoughts? What picture could I make in his memory? Then it suddenly came to me. It was there all along, but as with many things in life, we sometimes can't see the obvious.

The fallen oak tree lay in the field set apart from other trees, it's trunk shattered, spilt into two. It appeared to have been destroyed naturally. Closer inspection revealed that its fallen branches now provided shelter and refuge for other living creatures: birds, field mice, insects. The spiral of nature brings both death and life.

Trees, contrary to common belief, prefer the entanglement of other trees. Forests thrive better when they are natural, not managed by humans. It crossed my mind that had this tree not been isolated from a forest of oaks, its destruction might have been less severe.

If we humans could 'look through each other's eyes for an instant' as Thoreau wrote, we might see that we are essentially of the same community. If we could see this, instead of isolating ourselves into separate groups, would we inflict such terrible destruction on our own kind? Perhaps. Yet the many horrors of Rwanda and elsewhere tell us that we have much to learn.

Perhaps someday we will learn that we are all part of the whole, connected through the forces of nature. We may not understand this, but instinctively we know it is true: what affects you, affects me, affects us all. Our task, if there ever was one, surely must be to find our way to spiritual oneness.

Tariq Dajani