Jun. 22nd, 2009 10:16 am
aimeelicious: (iris_byrefuted)
There's a video out there, of a young Iranian woman dying. I don't know if you've seen it, and I'm not going to link to it here, but [ profile] liz_marcs has a link to it in her most recent post. I debated about watching it, torn between the warnings of its gruesomeness, a reluctance to be voyeuristic, and my instinct that I wanted to watch it to drive home for myself the reality and brutality of what's happening right now in that country. Finally, I clicked.

I cannot say I recommend viewing the video if you've managed to avoid it thus far. Watching someone die a violent death, close up, uncensored, unscripted, is SO vastly different from seeing it on a television show or movie. It's not even the same as seeing death on the news, which generally shows pictures of people *already* dead, or blurs faces. No, this video is absolutely visceral, 27 seconds of the human condition that reminded me not only of how quickly a life can end, but also that those of us far removed from the violence, hatred, oppression running rampant around the world cannot afford to turn a blind eye. If nothing else, watching this video made me FEEL. Feel disgust, at what humans can do to each other. Feel fear, at how little life is worth to some people. Feel pain, at the anguish of the man in the video with Neda who I think is her father. Feel anger, at the government of Iran and others of their ilk who are trying to take the non-violent protests and incite them into something more. Feel sadness, that a 16-year-old died in the street, in front of her family, watching her future cut short in front of their eyes. Who knows what good she might have done had she lived?

When I tried to talk to my boyfriend about this this morning, he asked me why I watched it, something I found difficult to articulate verbally (hence this post). And then he rather summarily dismissed the whole thing. At first I was really put off by his attitude. But we kept talking and I was reminded that this man has been a combat media in Iraq. He has seen people die IN HIS ARMS during war. Death is ALREADY real to him, ugly and inevitable. It's not that he doesn't value her life, or understand the senselessness of her death. It's that he hasn't been insulated from death the way I have. Does this make him less compassionate? It seems so on the surface, but I would argue in many ways, he is far more cognizant of what happens "out there" in the real world than I am.

Ultimately, I wanted to post about this for two reasons. The first is to honor the life I watched end. Giving that life my respect was the least I could do in response. And the second reason is that, and I have said this before, it is easy to live my own life in ignorant bliss of the suffering of others. It's easy for you to do the same. But we CANNOT. Even if there is nothing we can actually do, simply watching and knowing what happens to others in our human community is valuable in and of itself. It keeps us conscious of what we have that others don't. It makes us aware that as relatively free people, we are so very fortunate. It drives us to take action when we can, to help people in need. It keeps us real.

The flower in my icon is for Neda--irises mean faith, hope and wisdom, so it seemed particularly appropriate. May Neda rest in peace, and may all the witnesses to her death the world over keep her close to their hearts.


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July 2009

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