To the man in the orange shirt who fell near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. I don’t know if you were hit by shrapnel or if the sheer thunderous rumble pulled you to your knees. I sincerely hope you are ok. I will never forget you.
Your image now sits besides the one of the man standing atop of the car in the Queensland floods. The woman being dragged from the New Zealand earthquake. The people running from the water in Japan. Bloodied tourists limping through the flames in Kuta. A double decker bus, exploded. Hands grabbing onto trees, those swept away. The bodies falling from the towers.
All the images and the terror. Live news feeds, newspaper images, tweet pictures – my mind is full of faces. Strangers I will never meet, but who I think about often.
Our generation has been exposed to so much graphic footage of people in their darkest hours. We know the enormity of the violence, the devastation – we’ve seen every moment with our own eyes, on repeat. We’ve seen it from every angle. Without hesitation, I’m sure my soul has room to cradle your terror, but it’s struggling to see your faces suffer. You should be provided greater dignity.
News organisations have a responsibility to report the news, not shy away from reality, but something needs to change. There are people in those photos. There are loved ones watching that footage. They are living a nightmare being beamed into strangers’ homes all over the world. They deserve more compassion.
Words and images are powerful, but there needs to be more restraint. It doesn’t mean tragedies are being downplayed. It doesn’t mean viewers are being shielded from reality – we are all to aware of the realities of death and horrific injuries. Trust me, we’ve seen it. What it means is those victims are given some privacy at a time they are at their most vulnerable.
Like people who gather at road crashes, somehow we’ve been desensitised into thinking it’s ok to gawk at others’ misery.
My heart goes out to those who were enjoying a day in the sunshine and are now forever changed. I will never forget what those people have done to you, but I am turning off. You deserve more from me.
And to those people tirelessly helping – you are true heroes.