Stories. Judgment

We all know how a story stays with us, holds us in a moment, and allows us to step into another person’s point of view through both hearing as well as listening. Stopping, pausing, and soaking in what is being said.


They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Pictures can represent many stories in a single frame. But only if we stop, pause, and look as well as see.

What about a drawing created by the hand of another human? A figure made up of lines on a page to represent a person, their story, their spirit, their history, their past, their present and future.

How does your past, present or future shape YOUR interpretation of a story, a picture, or a drawing? How does it influence your ability to witness, to hear and to listen, to look and to see?

  • As you look at this drawing, what do you think of? What comes to mind first?
  • What if you knew he had lost his house in a devastating earthquake? How does that change what you see?
  • What if you knew that, given a destroyed house, he was worried about finding sufficient shelter for his family during a cold, harsh winter?
  • And, that he had 5 small children, including a baby girl?

    Stop. Pause. Reflect.

Now, what if you knew he was Pakistani and a devout Muslim?

Did anything change for you? Are you leaning in more, or leaning out?


  • Finally, what if you knew he was tirelessly working to help others rebuild their lives after that earthquake?
  • And that he wanted all of his children, and most of all, his girls to get a great education? He wanted a better life for his family, his neighbors, his communities – a life with dignity, opportunity, security, health, and happiness.
  • Look again and what do you see? Do you feel like you know him in some way? Does he remind you of someone, maybe even yourself?

Mr. Hassan worked as a Driver to help earthquake relief and rebuilding efforts in Pakistan. 


But, he was so much more: Friend, Protector, Neighbor, Brother.


Screen Shot 2016-09-26 at 5.08.50 PMOn October 8, 2005, a magnitude 7.6 earthquake shook the Kashmir region (a disputed territory controlled in part by Pakistan and India), along with sections of Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan. More than 80,000 people perished as a result of the quake, while an estimated 4 million were left homeless.

emBOLDen Alliances Team Members were there to assist and facilitate rebuilding. Posted in a remote region of Kashmir-held Pakistan, they were invited fully and wholeheartedly into communities previously closed to foreigners for 60 years. It was an incredible lesson in oneness and similarities over differences and divisions.Screen Shot 2016-09-26 at 5.07.03 PM

During our time living and working in this remote area, we built brotherly/sisterly/neighborly relationships in the communities around us. Relationships with people like Mr. Hassan, who displayed countless displays of protection, caring, and loyalty. He showed us that, despite having only just met us, he would have laid down his life for ours. Moreover, Mr. Hassan was just one in a community of like-minded people – people who had so little by traditional standards, yet who were willing to give everything they did have – food, shelter, friendship – to perfect strangers.

If we had stopped at any point above, would a single moment of judgment, a moment from YOUR past or present have stopped you from getting to know Mr. Hassan and his story? Prevented you from trusting him with your life? Prevented you from listening, from seeing – only hearing or looking?

“Because we all share an identical need for love, it is possible to feel that anybody we meet, in whatever circumstances, is a brother or sister. No matter how new the face or how different the dress and behavior, there is no significant division between us and other people. It is foolish to dwell on external differences, because our basic natures are the same.”

The Dalai Lama

Copyright emBOLDen Alliances 2016.

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You can see more of Co-Founder Bill Rohs’ Art at his upcoming show:

Pattern Shop Gallery, 3349 Blake St, Denver
Hours: First Fridays| 6 – 9pm, Thursdays | 12– 5pm, or by Appointment

Exhibition Dates:   Nov 4 – Dec 2,2016
Opening Artist Reception: Nov 4 | 6-9pm
Salon Artist Talk: Saturday, Nov 12 | 3-6pm
Closing Artist Reception: Dec 2 | 6-9pm

For more information, see Art Students League of Denver: An Exhibit Featuring the Award Winning Artists from the Best of Summer Art Market 2016.