I have not watched the recent ISIS beheadings. Each time I come across links to the too frequent gruesome videos, I hover my mouse over them—and move on. The hovering is less a function of making a decision as much as a sign to myself that even though I am not going to click, neither am I ignoring the acts of barbarism.
I don’t want to see them because once I do they will be seared into my brain. When we see something, versus hearing about it, it is almost impossible to expunge from our minds. For this reason, I did not see the movie Saving Private Ryan, despite my interest in World War II. In general, I avoid violent visual content. I even limit my reading. I appreciated (the word enjoyed would be wrong) and am glad I read Ghost Soldiers by Hampton Sides depicting the treatment of American POWs by the Japanese in W.W.II. However, I wasn’t ready to read a similar book for many years. If the written word can haunt me, pictures and particularly video content interfere with my daily functioning.
I do not need to see the beheadings to know that ISIS and other Islamic terrorist groups are a threat to everything I hold dear. Nor do I need to see the beheadings to know that the human desire to focus on one’s own life and well-being leads us to ignore evil until it engulfs us. Phrases like “Better Red than dead,” from days of the Communist threat or foolish and untrue slogans like, “War never solved anything,” are often shortsighted and cowardly attempts to justify fear and selfishness.
Visual images bombard us. They speak to our hearts. While arousing sympathy and empathy is good, there is a downside as well. Our hearts are easily manipulated and they often lead us to make poor choices. Images such as the beheadings can properly arouse fury and indignation, but they can also cause us to become either overwhelmed with futility or, conversely, desensitized.
I choose not to watch. What do you do?
Guaranteed not to cause nightmares -though it might keep you awake discussing the things that really matter in life