By Ernie McCray
I was driving and turned my radio to 89.5, KPBS, and there was a conversation going on about “7 Billion Others,” an exhibit that’s opening in the U.S. for the first time – at San Diego’s Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA): February 21 to September 13.
I liked what I was hearing and googled around and found, on the MOPA website, 45 questions written for visitors to the exhibit to answer so that they can find in themselves that spark that resides in us all and connects us to the journey of human beings featured in the video project.
My answer to the first question was: Ernest Charles McCray; age 76; retired school principal; widower; American as in United States of America.
Here are my replies to the other questions, based on what first came to my mind:
Did I like my occuption? Loved it. Children are my favorite people on the planet.
Family means everything to me. My family keeps me going like the Energizer Bunny, sunglasses and drums (bongos) included.
I want to pass on to my children my love for life and my ongoing attempts at being honorable, along with any spare change of mine they might find.
Being educated and being able to read and write has been how I’ve made contact with this spectacular planet with all its many gifts to human beings.
From my mother I learned to let nothing come between me and my hopes and dreams and from my father I got an idea of how to do that in a laid back “don’t sweat the small stuff” kind of way.
My living conditions are far better than those of my mom and dad.
It’s difficult to say “No” to my children and family when what they’re asking for is well intentioned and reasonable.
My greatest joy is waking up everyday and whittling away at making a better world out of this one we’ve mistreated in so many ways.
My greatest fear is that the abuse we’ve unleashed on the planet might end its ability to sustain us.
Nothing makes me more angry than old greedy rich white men sending teenagers off to fight wars for their personal well-being.
As a child I dreamed of going to Hell and burning there forever and ever and I dreamed of a world where I could buy a hamburger without a hassle.
My biggest dream right now is of a fantasy world where everyone gets along.
I can’t think of anything I’ve given up other than a few really bad habits.
I am, indeed, happy because happiness to me, basically, is being in good health and interested in what’s going around me along with seeing my progeny do great things.
What I would like to change in my life is the lack of empathy in our society for my people’s never-ending struggles.
I exist to love, to do so freely, and I bask in more love than I can ever give.
The last thing that made me laugh was a bit I saw on Facebook where a cat kept swatting letters a mailman was trying to insert in a mail slot.
The last thing that made me cry was delivering a line about a hanging I had seen as Hoke Coburn, the chauffeur in “Driving Miss Daisy.”
Escaping losing my life to the KKK when I was 11 years old was the most difficult event I have ever faced in my life. In that I learned that there is no limit to evil-ness.
Do I have enemies? Probably. But it’s not something I dwell on in the least.
I could only kill someone in self defense or in defense of someone else.
I’d be willing to die to be me.
I forgive very easily and there might be something for which it would be impossible for me to forgive but I can’t think of what that is.
I feel very free. In my everyday life I can’t live without love.
The changes I’ve seen in my country seem both like “many” and “none.”
I love my country deeply and devoutly and have only wanted to leave to travel.
Out in nature is where I feel most comfortable and I’ve seen vast changes in nature, the encroachment of “civilization” on animals like bobcats and coyotes and the fouling of the world’s skies and seas and lands and the trampling of desert animals underneath our toys with wheels. I’ve tried to protect it by walking instead of driving whenever I can and by not littering and through supporting organizations that protect animals and the environment.
My life has been affected by climate change in that I feel powerless to turn the situation around.
Money is something I’ve always wanted to simply have enough of for my few simple pleasures and I’ve managed to do that.
Progress is when human beings understand each other more and treat each others better through that understanding – that’s all I expect from it.
I know all men (and women) are meant in the scheme of the universe to be equal but in life on Earth we aren’t. Nothing about this world comes close to being “fair.”
The lives of women and men should be the same but such thoughts amount to heresy in this world of ours.
The greatest enemy of man is man himself, his distrust of other men, his willingness to choose opposing others rather than seeking ways to exist in harmony.
The Planet Earth is man’s best friend, providing him with all he could ever need or desire for living a good life.
People go to war because I think they actually believe it has some value. To have fewer wars we need to learn to talk to each other and not lord over others with our various belief systems.
More than feeling I’m accountable to God in my everyday life, I feel that I’m accountable to contributing to the betterment of all that lies before me.
After death life goes on without you or it continues if someone continues along the path you’ve worn.
I do know a prayer. I can say it. It goes “Our father which art in heaven…”
The meaning of life is to do, to pursue happiness for yourself and others over and over again.
If someone was to view me being interviewed with the 45 questions presented I would say to them that I’m being as honest and real and as loving and caring as I can be and I would ask that they do likewise – and then look to see how gratifying it is to act in such a manner.
My favorite song is “Give Peace a Chance.” With no one to sing it to I’ll just sing it to myself – if I knew the words.
I think these interview questions are part of what creating a better world is all about. I see that as its purpose.
To the 7 billion people on Earth I would like to say, in the spirit of the peaceful world I desire: “What the world needs now is love sweet love… It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.”
I can’t wait to see the exhibit at MOPA and experience what people around the world are saying about their journeys in life.