Putting Things into Perspective

November 24th, 2009

Nicholas Kristof’s talk was just another obligation on my schedule. Don’t get me wrong, I have tremendous respect for the two-time Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, and having recently viewed a preview of the upcoming HBO documentary, Reporter, a haunting film that follows The New York Times’ Kristof into the depths of the Congo, I was certainly looking forward to seeing him in person. But I had so much to do. After all, my book had just come out. I had all these photos from book signings I wanted to post on my new website. After several days away from the newspaper, I was trying to acclimate back into the world of news and cartooning. Worst of all, I hadn’t blogged in days!

Kristof, known for his extraordinary reporting form Tiananmen Square to Darfur, along with former Los Angeles Times reporter, Sonia Nazario, appeared in Omaha recently as part of the Great Minds series held at Kaneko—a fairly new venture intended to foster creative thinking. The topic? (Un)covering Human Crisis: Crucial Dispatches from the Innovative Journalist. Sounded heavy. And a bit depressing. Not to mention I was exhausted and all I could think about was that I was way behind on my website and my blog and…

As you might guess, the night was transformative. Kristof spoke of his experiences in Cambodia, interviewing young girls who had been kidnapped and forced into sexual slavery. As a journalist, how could I come away from a talk like that without completely reevaluating my own work? Suddenly, my cartooning, my book, my blog, my life, were the last things on my mind. All I could think about were those poor kids sold into prostitution, specifically, the girl Kristof described, the one who refused to cooperate for her captors, and, as a result, had her eye gouged out.

But Kristof doesn’t just shine a light into the depths of human darkness and then walk away. The journalist/activist encourages all of us to get involved. We can’t all be Nicholas Kristof. But there is much the rest of us can do to help. To learn more, please visit the website for Half the Sky, the new book by Kristof and his coauthor and wife, Sheryl WuDunn.

Thank you, Nicholas Kristof, for interrupting my hectic life. And thank you to Kaneko’s Great Minds series, for helping me get out of my own head.