Drawing Lessons

Sighs of relief. Jubilance. Gratitude and admiration for the excellence of first responders, medical personnel, citizens, neighbors, law enforcement at every level. It was an incredibly tumultuous and horrifying week that commenced with the Boston Marathon bombings, and culminated with the lockdown of Boston and the dramatic shootout and apprehension of the suspects,one dead, one wounded. Bostonians are able to resume their everyday lives, while all of us exhale and begin to consider what comes next.

Like any crisis, initial reactions can be visceral and harsh. When witnessing two young men, seemingly indifferent to human life, commit such horrifying acts, it is easy to want to exact revenge. Personally, I was thrilled that the younger brother was captured alive, and I hope that he will be able to provide actionable information. When many people reacted that they hoped he would die and/or suffer terribly, I thought about how incredibly difficult and rare it is to capture a terrorist or other violent criminal and not harm the perpetrator.

It reminds me of a truly remarkable historical event: the Israeli capture of Adolf Eichmann in Buenos Aires in 1960. That the Israelis were able to capture Eichmann and bring him to Jerusalem to stand trial for crimes against humanity as one of the organizers of The Holocaust, while many were recent survivors, is one of the most stunning examples of the capacity for human restraint and moral fortitude in the pursuit of justice. This is a lesson for humanity for the ages.

As we begin to seek answers to how the two Tsarnaev brothers became terrorists and what connections they may have had, much less how to deal with the surviving brother, I think it is also useful to consider lessons on drawing. We have been focusing thus far on “connecting the dots”, which of course gives us lines (or connecting line segments). We have photographic images, and other data that will help authorities connect the dots. When we draw, we sharpen our attention, and look for structure and proportion as well as various perspectives. Perhaps there is shading. Drawing is a process of refinement.

Drawing is not the same as form; it is a way of seeing form. (Edgar Degas)

The very act of drawing an object, however badly, swiftly takes the drawer from a woolly sense of what the object looks like to a precise awareness of its component parts and particularities. (Alain de Botton)

It is often said that Leonardo drew so well because he knew about things; it is truer to say that he knew about things because he drew so well. (Sir Kenneth Clark)

The mindset of drawing is one that is often cast aside, in favor of immediate images and instantaneous reaction. Drawing lessons may be as valuable as crowdsourced images though, if we are to enhance our understanding and possibilities for learning and improving.

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