Americans as a whole are very generous people. When tragedy strikes around the nation or the world, Americans generate an outpouring of aid and sympathy. We want to help the unfortunate victims. Total charitable donations to various worthy causes amount to many of millions of dollars every year. We donate to organizations dedicated to helping the poor and sometimes we even participate on a personal level. We drop in grocery items in the collection boxes for Food for the Hungry; we work in drives for collection of aid items. Some of us volunteer to work in soup kitchens and clinics. The elite give charity balls and elaborate social events to raise money for good works. And here in Houston, at the annual Thanksgiving dinner for the poor in one of the huge centers, we see a scattering of well dressed matrons serving - and usually followed by a write up in the society pages praising their contributions.
We are generous and we feel good about our generosity - as long as the poverty or tragedy doesn't impact us on a personal level. As Granny pointed out, NIMBY. Those same people probably donate to organizations or their churches to feed the hungry, help druggies and alcoholics rehabilitate, give to foreign church missions to carry the word of the Lord to others, but for crying out loud - NOT next door to us!! The concept of helping the poor, the addicted, the "lost" is noble as long as we don't have to live with the downtrodden. We don't want to see it.
We are the same way about the vast array of human suffering around the globe. The famines, the slaughter and displacement of entire peoples in ethnic cleansing, in civil wars, in all the natural disasters and instances of man's inhumanity to man. We give generously to collections to help these peoples. We give our checks, we bustle about securing clothing and other goods to be shipped overseas. We see images on TV and the internet and in our newspapers and remark how terrible it is. Fleeting news bites and it's on to something else; we do not have to deal with up close and personal or extended views of the suffering.
And we are the same about the monstrous effects of war on human populations. We get the "hurrah for our side; we destroyed the ____ of the enemy". We may be shown brief bites of the native people fleeing, being detained and searched, but quite sanitized and designed to keep us removed from the horrors of reality. We see our own casualties only as numbers, and if our wounded are shown it is usually in optimistic specials of how Johnny is adapting so marvelously to his prosthetics. We are fed lies and propaganda and patriotic buzz words to keep us quiet and supportive as much as possible -- and if any of us do dare to engage in anti-war protests we are investigated by our government's minions, and are accused of failing to support our troops.
And some of us do NOT want to confront the realities. We don't want to see the poverty stricken, the homeless, the addicted. And we certainly don't want to see the horrific reality of war. We don't want to see the blood, the grievous injuries to fragile human bodies, the dead. We don't want to see the wailing, the grief and pain, the dull shock of minds overwhelmed by horrors. We don't want to connect vast piles of rubble as once someone's home, business, workplace. We don't want to see it; we don't want to hear it; we don't want to think about it, except in the abstract of "oh, isn't it awful" as we change the channel on the TV.
And we don't want to confront the realities of torture, especially torture inflicted by the hands of our own and sanctioned by our government. We don't want to see the blood, the terror on victims faces, the shame and humilation, the pain and suffering visited upon them. We don't want to know. We tsk, tsk when we hear the news but we really don't want to know. We may comment about how we don't want war, but we go on about our busy lives and remain untouched and inactive. We do nothing.
I am criticized in some quarters for posting such terribly graphic photographs. I am accused of being cruel and insensitive, of secretly harboring a sadistic streak and delighting in blood and suffering. I am not and I do not. You see photos. I see real people. I have never worked in a war zone but I have worked in big city ERs that were almost like war zones. I have seen the immediate results of accidents involving steel and concrete and fire on human bodies; I have seen the end result of violence done one to another. I see the photos and I see the blood, smell it, smell the odor of violated flesh; I handle those awful wounds, restrain a fellow human writhing in agony, hear his screams, hear the frightened, grieved cries of the loved ones, and the children - the children are the worst, the helpless innocents. Sadistic, delight? No, it is 50 years of experiences hitting me in the head and heart like sledgehammers. It is reality to me.
I am accused and criticized of several things. It makes people uncomfortable, it offends, it traumatizes the sensitive. Yes, it does. BUT wake up, America, confront the evil that is happening, that WE are perpretating on other human beings. SEE them as real people and know that we are doing it to them. Awaken to reality and DO something. If you really care, you will.
And I will not stop posting the horrors. You don't have to look at them. You can skip on to another blog like flipping the TV channel. You can ignore them, you can pay lip service to sympathy and anti-war sentiments but deny reality. You can say NIMBY. Until WE are the ones on the photos.
I will post on our troops and what they suffer. They are war victims too.