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Some of my fellow soldiers were so fed up that they gathered their maps, compasses, and Benzedrine and headed for Phnom Penh, Cambodia, with the hope that a Swedish tanker would give them asylum. My hope is that they are safe somewhere today. I decided to stick it out as a medic. I had started taking photographs, and I wanted to become better with a camera, as seeing well and recording that sight seemed more important than verbal explanations. I had been a varsity debater in high school, but that had not saved me from serving in Vietnam as a soldier in an imperialistic army. Logical thinking can be no better than its premise. I now had a new premise based on seeing clearly. The goal of my work is to drive vision past people’s categorical thinking. My faith is that every person is essentially a moral entity, underneath whatever bogus ideology and short-term personal advantage they believe in. True documentary photography battles with advertising photography and the dominant cultural aesthetic. Contrived photography, as commercial propaganda and as entertainment, rules in the marketplace and museums. Shock and fantasy, sex and violence, nostalgia for a world that never existed, and an idealized nature in which no one lives, fetishizing people as exotic specimens of “the other;’ these genres sell and are shown as art. Documentary photography that explicates our shared human condition challenges the status quo. It demands social action that affirms community values over private profit. This collection of photographs is a testament to those who have tried and are trying to engage us, increase our understanding and help us organize ourselves for a more human life. War is not natural, not inevitable. Alan Pogue was born in Corpus Christi in 1946. After volunteering for a tour of duty in Vietnam, he saw the world in a different light and has been giving us his photographic vision of humanity ever since. He has lived in Austin since 1969. His book Witness for Justice A young girl who lived in a farming cooperative in the countryside of Nicaragua. The custodian at Dijla School for Girls in Bagdad. Burning trees to make charcoal is one of the few ways for country people to make cash in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Cesar Chavez founded the United Farm Workers in California in 1962 and worked for farm workers’ rights until his death in 1993. Gay Texan protesting Vietnam. OCTOBER 5, 2007 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13