October 17, 2019

Unrelenting Gore

I’m jumping in to share my thoughts on the issue of whether it’s right for people to spread horrific images on Facebook. There’s no question that we suffer for seeing high definition photos of bloody bodies and beheadings. We are indelibly altered when we see what we are not emotionally equipped to see.

The issue as I understand it is: what is the value of doing so? Is it to become more viscerally aware? To feel more then we already do? To more powerfully express the awful dimensions of a story to people that can’t possibly understand it the way we can? If I felt there was a commensurate benefit to subjecting myself, and others to the gore then I’d be the first to say: “shut up and look hard”. The fact is, I don’t see the value in staining souls. On a purely technical level, if you feel you can’t resist exposing people to these sorts of images, at least give them a chance. After all, you’re not presenting a case to a governmental agency, you’re spewing this stuff to folks that are eating their corn flakes and looking for pictures of their grandkids. If for some reason you just need to share, then for God’s sake, put up a warning: CAUTION GRAPHIC PHOTOS and add a link.

But all this discussion of what to post and what not to post is hardly the point. We are being confronted again by ancient forces – forces that seem to me to be part of the spiritual fabric of the world. I think the more essential question is whether or not the actions of this depraved people compel us to act with more moral clarity. Is this insane culture making us more – or less sane? Is each act of evil causing each of us to reflect upon our own behavior, to correct and refine it in real ways – not just in ways that have us spouting the same old angry platitudes? Are these killings causing us to be kinder to our children, to our spouses and to our neighbors?

I could be dead wrong, but the entire world feels to me like it’s being split into two parts: the productive and the destructive. I ask simple things of the hatchet bearers, the automobile-killers and the beheaders: What have you created lately? What have you done for the betterment of mankind? Something in the field of the arts? Something in the area of medicine perhaps? Maybe you’ve created some much-needed advance in agriculture that can help to feed the hungry of the world? Some technology that speeds up commerce and communication? By my reckoning, you haven’t done a damn thing. You’ve been involved with death. You’ve grown to become nothing more than a child with a perverse and untempered id. You are full of greed and lust and the same dark jealousy that has animated you since time immemorial.

But what do we do now; we who have the power to defend ourselves after so many years of murders and pogroms, the Shoah? Do we need even more images to spur us into action? Do we need more information, more evidence, more public opinion on our side to shout that we must finally take an unequivocal leadership role and show the world how to oppose evil? Can we, with a calm and steady justice, protect the innocent as far as possible, but come down on the killers like a fu&*ing hammer?

Is it moral to let politics stand in the way of reason? Is it right to wait for an even greater catastrophe to occur? And who says we would react differently, inured as we’ve become, to each new horror.

In the end I suppose, the greatest single reason to stop sharing the brutal images on Facebook is because they become less moving over time. When we’ve seen enough of them, our humanity will leech away – just as it appears to have done in the minds and hearts of our enemies.