My earliest magazine subscription came as a gift from my mother when I was 13. I wasn’t the healthiest child, but in my early years I took solace in the fact that whenever I had to go to the doctor’s office in Brooklyn Heights, there were copies of National Geographic on the tables in which I could become totally absorbed.
I loved seeing the primitive jungle worlds, the stark worlds of ice, the colorful Slavic villages and challenging Himalayas. The stories depicted parts of the world where struggle and adversity were overcome by the joy of living, the sense of victory in overcoming nature’s wrath. So imagine my surprise when National Geographic took on the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, an American city thrust into third-worldly gloom without the sense of joy or triumph. Flint, a city where public servants chose to poison its residents, to save a few dollars in the wealthiest nation in the world.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, the National Geographic pictures of photographer Wayne Lawrence speak volumes. We live in a nation where such tragedies are though to be unheard of. But yet, here it is, documented on the pages of National Geographic. This is something that I never thought I would see as a child some 50 years ago. I wonder how far our nation will sink 50 years from now?