Morsi has been an author, writer, photographer, artist, activist, fisherman, diver, revolutionary, car thief, international fugitive, defender of hopeless causes, truck driver, forklift operator, vending machine re-programmer, expert hacker, graphic designer, mechanic, horticulturalist of rare herbs, rabbit farmer, businessman, carpenter, investor, aircraft programmer, cyclist, amateur boxer, saviour of lost friends and young wayward females, master of fast money schemes, keeper of an undisclosed empire and global adventurer/ explorer since 1975. He is a long term member of the Jutland police officer support association, and quotes Bob Marley when he says, ‘I will not be justified by the laws of men.’
He lives on planet earth, a native of Egypt who’s spent a good deal of his life in Copenhagen, Denmark, he’s travelled the world twice over, and is now based in Australia where he loves his son Zaki.
But these words merely describe the way he earns a living, but not the way he lives. He’s an example of that rare breed one is lucky enough to encounter but a few times in a given life; the autodidact man.
~ Erik Thomas Johnson ~
Every day we experience uncertainties, risks, and emotional challenges. It defines our lives and our identity. Based on more than 15 years of working as a photojournalist with emphasis on human connection and vulnerability, Mohammed Massoud Morsi dispels cultural dogmas about kindness, openness and vulnerability as a weakness and argues that it is the most courageous way of living a worthy life.
In a world where the dominant culture is “never good enough”, fear has become second nature to people and openness as subversive and uncomfortable.
Putting ourselves “out there” means there’s a much greater risk of getting criticized and failing.
However when we step back and examine our lives, examine each others lives, other people’s lives, we find that nothing is more disappointing and nagging to our being as standing on the outside of our lives and wondering what it would be like if we had the courage to let ourselves be seen as who we are.
Mohammed Massoud Morsi or just ‘Morsi’ explores this through his pictures and through his writing and through telling the stories of the lives that has crossed his path in life, personally or through his work as a photojournalist and researcher.
“I am more of a storyteller than anything else. Working with a camera from the age of 7, I have been inspired to tell my own stories, tell other people’s stories. I have, in writing as well, explored an understanding of several topics such as happiness and connection, vulnerability and humanity. I am always searching to know why, I want to know what the truth is…”
“In talks and in workshops I explore those topics through own experiences, interviews and researched stories. Take for example prejudice that has been my foe and life companion since childhood. And although it still triggers hurt in my life, it has given me strength to feel compassion for the place where those who have and who direct it towards me, live. This is valuable to share, because I believe we deep down know it’s wrong. However because of society, because vulnerability is considered weakness and we dare not show empathy towards someone, instead we collude in apathy and our own discomfort or feeling of disappointment is released by blaming others, in particularly those who are perceived different; in any shape, form or way.”
“I have failed deeply in my life, and that failure has been my foundation and in failure there is a knowledge that is a true gift, and the wins I’ve had, have been won with pain, and together those experiences have been worth more than any qualification I ever earned.”
I will use 9/11 as an example. Many many people don’t believe the truth has been told, yet they remain silent expressing their opinion. You could argue that their opinion is to a large degree defined by what they wish the world around them to think about them. The world changed quite rapidly after 9/11 and as an Egyptian (and Arab) I became everyone else’s business, accountable for the act committed on the infamous date because the media said so. 28 days later Osama became a household name and the USA invaded Afghanistan. The most remarkable thing though, since 9/11, was that the media, who at that point was corporately consolidated, seemed to chant more than ever before, a tune most people today consider to be part of their life without so much as even questioning it.
- What to be afraid of.
- Who to blame.
I have worked as a photojournalist and a writer for almost 20 years and through thousands of interviews over the years, also researching the topics I speak about, and most of all connecting to people from both the incriminating and incriminated part of this world, I am sharing this knowledge.
I want to see another world, where we are in love with life, where we have the courage to be and not to become, I want to give people different perceptions because fear is our worst enemy as human beings. When we fear, we feel incomplete and when we feel incomplete it’s easier to make us believe things that are not true, easier to make us buy things we don’t need, easier for us to hate other people and easier for us to live our lives, watching it by the side line instead of engaging in it and creating.
When we are children, we create and we come from a place of giving and not wanting. We aren’t waiting for our circumstances or surroundings to change, in fact we feel happy and complete doing what we love to do, create and play. Growing up we get imposed a system of probation and preparation for the future that never really gets there and it makes us not believe in our ability to create. My talk about humanity is a talk about the shame we end up feeling about ourselves from the blame of the society around us. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s your skin colour, your size, your ideas, your thoughts, your sexuality. Blame creates shame, it’s a release of our discomfort and we pretend it doesn’t hurt the recipient. Think about how fervent hatred can be. Shame leads amongst many other things, to a fear of showing ourselves honestly to the world. In fact we try our hardest to numb this courage within us, to tell our true story. To tell people how we feel. The rejections are simply too painful and adds on to the hurt, the shame within us.
For me this has been a very personal experience, having experienced and still experience racism and prejudice first hand. My entire life has been lived in exile, and for the last 6 years I have been living in Perth, Australia as my son was born here in 2011. Living in exile has been a rewarding journey but it has also been a painful one. In being the outsider I have lived with a sense of strength and courage but also with a strong feeling of shame for I have been relentlessly judged and criticised and although I have created many true friendships around the world, I also lived with a deep hurt within myself, feeling very incomplete. The journey to heal is still in progress and will be so for many years and through life. In my work as a photojournalist, I saw and recognised that feeling of shame in my own subjects, working with a camera for almost 20 years.
In Egypt we say that you are never what loves you. This also means that you are what you love. That doing what I knew I loved and no matter how much people would criticise me, they could and can never take away the love I have for what I love to do and be.
For many years though I was what happened to be and as with all change it comes from within. To move to a place where I chose what I want to be.
My life in Perth is a new beginning in many ways, the most important one being a father. I don’t want to say I have a solution; by far. What I would like to share with my listeners is that I am being as courageous as I can be in sharing my life experience and the knowledge that I have read, witnessed, contemplated and felt; with a large amount of gratitude.
I look forward to connecting with you.
~ Mohammed Massoud Morsi ~