A friend and I were talking last week, and the topic of cultural conditioning came up. When this subject comes up, we are usually talking about what we learned as kids and how that influences our view of the world as adults. My friend, James, commented that the cultural conditioning we are learning right now is fear. He has a point. Aren't we afraid to touch our face, go out without a mask, gather in groups? We are even afraid to leave our homes. To take it a little further, aren't most of us fearful for the future? And the biggest fear of all, catching COVID. The uncertainty is conditioning us all to be fearful in one way or another.
You may be familiar with the work I enjoy doing in Mexico with Casas de Luz. In short, Casas de Luz builds homes for families in Tiajuana. The family owns the land; Americans donate the materials and labor. All of the builds had been canceled back in March, and I hadn't been to Mexico since then. You know, travel bans and stuff. The lady who runs Casas de Luz needed a ride down to one of the colonias (neighborhoods) this past week. I've been to this area of TJ a dozen times and know it reasonably well, no problem. I can make this trip, piece of cake!
The night before we left for Tajuana, I couldn't sleep. I kept waking up and having thoughts about what all could go wrong. Would we be stopped crossing into Mexico? Would everyone there be sick and infected with COVID? Would we be stopped by the police and asked for a bribe? And most of all, would we have trouble re-entering the US? It was fear—culturally conditioned fear, plain and simple. We went to Tiajuana. We crossed over like we had a hundred times before. We drove to the colonia without incident. We drove back and crossed into the US without the border agent doing more than glancing at our passports.
What does all this have to do with photography? Nothing really, except that I didn't bother to stop in TJ and take the photos I wanted to make, and the other evening I accidentally erased the memory card with the photos I did make here in San Diego. So I have no new and fresh pictures for you this week. So I thought I'd offer you something to think about; how the current cultural conditioning is affecting our lives in ways big and small alike. And go to Mexico if you have a chance. It was very peaceful, and almost everybody was wearing a mask.
Thank you for reading!
An image from the archives
that I published last week
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