Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Don't Look Away

It made me wince.

It’s clear what we’re seeing here, or at least in part. A shattered leg. One leg; where the other leg is, that’s not certain. Certain, however, that this man – a victim of the bombings at the Boston Marathon on April 15 – has lost the lower extremities of both legs. 

There is blood. There is bone. There is hanging cloth, hanging flesh, hanging skin, tenacious tendons. And, in the hand of the man in the cowboy hat, a pinched artery or vein. 

I will not show this photo to my children. Their tender hearts are still trying to process that bad people did something horrific in Boston on Monday. 

But we as a people need to see such photos. We do not need to be protected from them. Because in them we can see in them the resilience and the ugliness that is the world we live in. 

German residents near concentration camps were marched through them after they were liberated, so they would know firsthand what had happened there. 

This photo will become iconic of the Boston Marathon bombings, if we, as a nation, are allowed to see it. It was shown on the news the first day, but has since appeared cropped, leaving the worst of it out. If we see enough of it, if we see enough of images such as this, perhaps we can figure out how to end things like this, perhaps we can think that our own drones are doing things like this in other countries in the name of fighting terror. 

There are other iconic photos, of course. The Falling Man, from the September 11 terrorist attacks.

There is the photo of a fireman carrying one-year-old Baylee Almon from the wreckage of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995.

We need to see these photos so when we say never again, we don’t forget what we never want to see.

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