Monday, December 17, 2012

A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Words


Napalm Girl In the picture, the girl will always be 9 years old and wailing "Too hot! Too hot!" as she runs down the road away from her burning Vietnamese village. She will always be naked after blobs of sticky napalm melted through her clothes and layers of skin like jellied lava. 

One look at this horrific photo was all it took to wake the conciseness of the American people to what our war in Vietnam really looked like. 
read complete story here;

President Obama, in his well thought out speech about the Newtown massacre, uttered the following words; 

"I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer’s no. We’re not doing enough. And we will have to change." 

read more here;

So, how do we go about doing that? The President left this question up to us to answer and so I gave it some thought. The first image that popped into my mind was the photo of the  Napalm Girl" Even after 40 years the image of that young girl was seared into my memories. And, of more importance, it significantly changed my views and feelings about the Vietnam war. This one picture transformed me from a "flag waving, don't tread on me" John Wayne fan into a very upset father of 3 young children who I could imagine being in that picture. 

Neo-cons were paying attention that day and quickly went about looking for ways to shield the American public from the realities of war. This could not have been more evident that during the Bush years when Americans were forbidden to even see the flagged draped coffins  of our mutilated and dismembered  that we refer to as our "national treasure" (rather than corpse of someone's son or father or nowadays sister or mother) returning from a far off land in body bags. 

I asked myself, what if we saw photos of these young souls being picked up off the battle field. Sometimes no more than a few body parts that without DNA tests we would not even know their names.  I wonder if these photos had been flashed across Americans TV screens if these senseless wars would have began, let alone go on for decades. Instead of seeing the corpses we are shown pictures of these rosy cheeked youngsters all decked out in their sharp uniforms, grinning from ear to ear, and looking so proud to be an American. Those are the images of war those in power want us to see because they know full well what might happen if we saw images of the results of war. 

I believe that maybe the same strategy is used by those in power who are heavily invested in promoting (and profiting) from our culture of violence. God forbid we should see photos of the crime scene in Newtown. Classrooms floors stained with the blood of innocent children and their teachers. Or seeing photos hundreds of shell casing that spewed from a combat type assault weapon littering these classrooms and signifying the remnants of the high powered slugs that ripped the bodies of these young children apart; some being hit with as many as 11 rounds. Let's not forget that this weapon of mass destruction was legally purchased by a "soccer mom" in a town that was once heralded as "one of the safest cities in America." 

My question is; Rather than reminiscing and memorializing about the victims of these horrific massacres by showing photos of their once smiling innocent faces, how would Americans react and respond if they were able to see the photos of this crime scene flashed across their TV screens? How would Americans (especially those who are parents) react and respond if photos of the bullet riddled lifeless corpses of these young children were flashed across their TV screens and printed in their local newspaper?  How would Americans react and respond after seeing these horrific images in reassuring their children that they are safe, they have nothing to fear, this is an isolated and rare event. Really? 

Would Americans feel the same about Video Games rated as "first person shooter"? Would that term take on a different meaning if Americans saw what happens when what we "entertain" ourselves with plays out in the real world. Where you can't reboot and everyone comes back to life and you can kill again, and again, and again. 

I believe that seeing pictures of the Newtown Massacre and those that preceded it would prompt many Americans to scream for change; even those who loudly protest for their rights to bear arms. As in describing the scene in the photo of 40 years ago, a caption of this massacre could eerily read this;

"In these pictures, the girls and boys will always be 5 and 6 years old, and wailing "It hurts! - It hurts!" as they run to find a safe place They will always be disfigured and lifeless after hundreds of lead slugs ripped through their tearing apart their organs." 

To not remember the images that this caption creates in our consciousness is simply insane. Lest we forget that the definition of insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results."