Here is my rant for the day. Feel free to pass it by if you are in need of only happy thoughts.
On Sunday of this week, I was in the grocery store (on my own, thankfully) and noticed the front cover of the Toronto Star. Anyone local would likely have seen it too - not something that you can easily forget. The front page of the newspaper showed, in great detail, the naked body of a Haitian man, his legs bound (apparently after having been dragged through the streets). He was being beaten to death with a wooden plank as a crowd looked on. Now, I have many, many issues with this. First, I highly doubt that any of us need to see this sort of photo to bring home for us the reality of what is going on in Haiti. And apart from a total lack of respect and compassion for this man and his family, the picture appeals only to the worst aspects of human character in order to sell newspapers and make money.
But my biggest issues is this - As an adult, I can choose which media I turn to to gather information on what is going on in the world. If I don't like how a newspaper, e-coverage, radio or television show covers the issues, I can choose to go elsewhere. I also have an intellectual, experiential, and spiritual framework to help me understand photos like that. MY FOUR AND SEVEN YEAR OLD CHILDREN DO NOT!!!! I believe that the publisher has the right to print almost whatever they want, in an effort to tell their story. They also have a moral responsibility to think about where and how their product will be displayed (as do the shop keepers, by the way!). That photo was out, directly at a child's eye level, in every grocery store, convenience store, and sidewalk newspaper box throughout most of the province.
My kids know that there was a really bad earthquake in Haiti. They know that many people were hurt, and that their homes were destroyed. At their ages, that is all that they need to know (and many Mamas would argue that even that is too much, too young). They know that we have a responsibility to do whatever we can to help. If any small bit of good can come out of this tragedy, I hope it is that our children will find a sense of the power they have to help, and a feeling of responsibility to act that comes from their shared humanity. This is what we should be striving for, not using it as a chance to display all that is vile and violent in human nature.
Most importantly, to me that image feels like poison. It is in my mind, and I cannot get it out. As I am working on some mundane task of daily life, it flashes across my mind and I wonder about this man - about the people who love him and are missing him right now. I am struck by how terrifying and painful his last moments must have been. I am horrified by the looks on the faces of the witnesses in the crowd. Why on earth would we, as a society, allow our children to be poisoned like that?
I have written a letter to the editor about this, and I will share if I hear any response. If you are finding yourself with a few extra minutes today, I hope that you will do the same. Just maybe, it will give someone at the paper pause to think about whether they would want their own children or grandchildren to see photos like that.