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  • Reverend James Squire

Sea Change To See Change

Recently I wrote about the importance of the power of video and a picture to change people’s attitude in a dramatic way. A major transformation of any kind is sometimes referred to as a sea change when referring to these transformations. My point was that a sea change can be occur about any visual moments that create feelings within us that compel to see change in what is needed as we move forward as a nation and as individuals.

This year is the 50th anniversary of one such picture. The photograph of Pha Kim Phue OOnt, a nine years old girl born in 1963 known as the Napalm Girl taken by Trang Bang received the Pulitzer Prize. In addition, he rushed the girl to a hospital and saved her life. The image was voted the most powerful image of the last 50 years. The history Channel conducted a poll among British audiences. The picture topped the list of photographs that changed the world.

It was taken during the Vietnam War and painted a graphic picture of the damage that American troops were doing by dropping napalm fire on the Vietnamese. Pha is pictured running down a road naked after being hit by this form of chemical warfare.

Nixon was attempting to change the narrative during the Vietnam protests to include the fact that Vietnamese citizens were not being targeted by instruments of war. He went on a crusade to convince the American people that the photograph was a fake. It was also difficult to get the photo published because it was a picture of a naked child who had her clothes burned off her.

Its eventual release made it an iconic picture and changed American opinion. But there is another sea/see change of transformation that has gotten less attention and is just as important as picturing the terrible ramifications of chemical warfare. It involves another form of fire called forgiveness.

Pha had spent a good bit of her life feeling like a victim. She wished the picture had not been taken. She couldn’t stand to look at it. She contemplated suicide and even today she is in constant pain. She then discovered the New Testament and learned in the Gospel images of the Jesus that we are called to forgive those who hurt us.

She looked at that same picture of her running down the road burned and naked and saw it in a different way. A sea change that created a see change. Instead of an enemies list as Trump and Nixon had, she turned her enemies list into a forgiveness list that includes the pilot who dropped the bomb on her. Same picture but seen in a different way. Her mission in life became taking care of children in any way that she could.

It will not surprise you to know that her next step is to go and help the children in war torn Ukraine. When you discover love and the Gospel, it is like discovering fire for the second time. A video of her transformation is below.

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