Everyday I watch images of violence, and destruction, on Blogs, on News Sites, Photo sites, on TV. This has become the norm for most of us in the Global Digital age.. I wonder whether it should be? I suppose the question leads to like so many to the basic premise of whether it’s better to know then not to. Everything from infidelity, to where one raises kids, to what one watches leads to the question that everyone since the Greeks have wrestled with. What’s the price of knowledge? What’s the value of seeing senseless violence and death around us. Yet it’s out there. It takes out people who never saw it coming, people that had no chance of stopping it. Senseless is life, senseless is death.
Though the question whether knowledge is better then ignorance is not something I want to ponder tonight. It’s too abstract, and has different implications based on which angle it’s examined from. Tonight I’d rather just look at a single facet. The angle here is our increasing exposure to things that we have historically never been exposed to and what does it do to us.
No one I know died, No one I know knows anyone that has died. I’ve not seen a dead body in many years. So why am I sitting around pondering this death on a mass scale. Short answer because it’s there, and it’s here in front of it. I’m staring at it every morning and every evening. These things are taking take place on a higher frequency then we acknowledge and on a more massive scale then we can imagine.
Just Last year the Haiti Earthquake with it’s 220,000 deaths out of a population of around just 9 million brought this reality into my life, and left it. Then the Russian Heatwave that killed thousands and now Tsunami that’s wiped out cities and let so far unmeasurable dead across the Pacific coast of Japan
Are we designed to care about things? Looking into the topic I’ve discovered that if we are indeed aware then yes. Or at least it effects us. There are levels of Post Traumatics Stress Disorder (PTSD) directly linked with percentages of populations that are indicrectly experiencing events. There is a reduced but direct correlation to how many degrees we’re seperated by those directly affected. Those that lived through 9/11 will all have lost someone within a handfull of degrees. I have lost dozens by two degrees of seperation. I have not suffered anything of the sort, many have, but should we collectively suffer when we aren’t directly affected.
Is there value for this suffering when it has no value. Sure we give and help out those in need but most of us either do or don’t but we all are affected. It is we who are dealing with psychological consequences. Which 100 years ago we simply wouldn’t and now are somewhat in our hands but mostly not. Is turning on TV and watching these events in places far removed good or bad? Is there a moral imperative or ethical value to us suffering. What if we don’t? What if these images anesthetize us to the true horror. Where we compare one event to another. Discuss them in a detached way? Do we lose our humanity by being bombarded by these images.
I’m tired of looking at this.. But feel that I need to. I’m worried to what it’s doing to me on subconscious level… I don’t want to lose my connection or ability to empathize. But how can we really empathize or grasp the loss 15,000 people and really wrap our minds around it. When the loss of each one of these people is a tragedy in itself to someone. Each man/woman/child connected to many others. Then you take these connections and rip them apart. And take this tragedy and multiply it thousands and thousands of times.
Maybe one day I will be living somewhere off the grid, or find a way to tune these images out. Where I don’t have to make this choice over and over, but until then I feel like it’s my duty to stare at these photos every day as a sort of vigil and to honor those that lost their lives and those that have been left behind.