Sunday, July 1, 2018

Karsh and Raffi

“If you have to cast a stone – be sure to miss.” - Yousuf Karsh

Joyce Sasse - 
Renowned portrait photographer Yousuf Karsh and children’s musician Raffi hold several things in common. They are known for their elegant dignity, their Armenian heritage and their pride in being an essential part of the Canadian fabric.

1938 self portrait - Yousuf Karsh (public domain, Library and Archives of Canada )
Karsh, in his autobiography “In Search of Greatness”, recalls an important teaching from his father. As a young Armenian growing up in Turkey, he remembered the way the Turks taunted and bullied him and his friends. So he started carrying pebbles in his pocket to throw at his tormentors. When he had to explain to his father why his packet was full of rocks, the older man replied “You must not come down to their level. If you have to cast a stone, be sure to miss.”

Karsh is considered by many to be “the greatest portrait photographer of the 20th century”. Hundreds of individuals are indebted to him for the quiet, gracious way he found to photograph each person for the world to see and remember them.

Raffi, the children’s troubadour, works with children (and their parents). He helps them respect themselves and their world as they sing and laugh and learn by sharing stories together. He founded the “Centre for Child Honouring” in order to advocate for the universal needs of children.

These men knew what it was to suffer from terrible discrimination in their homeland, but they chose to rise above the evils and serve the world in ways that reflected respect, dignity and gentleness.

In today’s world, where so many of our ways of doing and being have become frayed and tattered, we can let the taunters bring us down or we can choose to aspire to finer levels of being human.

Remember the advice of the elder Karsh. “If you have to cast a stone – be sure to miss.” Remember, also, Michelle Obama’s words – “When they go low, we go high!”

Live life in the positive and enjoy its abundance!

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