My roommate says, “Why do you keep watching?! It only makes you cry!”
I watch anyway. The hardest part comes later in the day, as I watch long lines of Americans waiting to donate blood.
There are less than 5 survivors to receive it.
July 22, 2011. Oslo Bombing, Utøya Massacre.
The phone rang. I answered with a sniffling, “Hello?’
Andy says, “You okay?”
Me: “You didn’t hear? Families – kids – gunned down while camping on an island!”
I fill him in. He tells me to stop following the news.
I ignore him. For days.
Which means I get to hear an American right-wing idiot compare the victims to the “Hitler Youth.”
December 14, 2012. Newtown School Shooting.
Twenty dead. Most of them six years old. A stanza of the Longfellow poem turned Christmas carol plays on an endless loop in my mind.
And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
I follow the news at my desk, hoping for something. Perhaps there will be a miraculous story of survival.
April 15, 2013. Boston Marathon Bombings.
Andy says, “This CNN coverage is terrible. They aren’t even giving us new information.”
He turns off the TV. I take my tissues to my computer and stream news reports live.
A young American woman, a student from China, and an eight-year-old boy.
Thursday. Yesterday. Today. Beirut. Paris.
I’m on Twitter. Facebook. CNN. BBC. Aljeezera. ABC.
Andy watches the pile of tissues grow. He thinks I’m crazy, “Why do you torture yourself?”
It’s a good question. It’s not that I like blood and death. I’m not even brave enough to watch the raw footage. There are sights you cannot un-see in life, and I want no part of them. Seriously. If there was one thing I could erase from my memory, it’s that snuff films exist. (Or Michael Vick.)
Yet I am compelled to watch, to hear the stories of the victims and the survivors. Despite man’s nearly unbearable inhumanity to man.
If I don’t watch, I feel guilt.
Some of it is because I can turn off the TV and walk away. There are many people without that option.
But there is more. One of the boys killed in Newtown was Noah Pozner. The killer shot Noah’s jaw off. His mother, Veronique Pozner, insisted on an open casket, and she insisted that Governor Malloy of Connecticut view her son’s body. He did, and he wept.
So should we all.
As Americans, we should see what we have allowed to happen, thanks to our refusal to enact reasonable gun control laws.
We should see what our foreign policy has wrought as well. Yes, yes, the world is complicated. There are more factors at play in the rise of ISIS than there are words in this post. Unlike the neoconservatives, I cannot break it down to black and white, good and evil. I can go back over one hundred years and point out a a hundred wrong turns in Western foreign policy, but right now? There is, in fact, precious fucking little that I can do to ensure that there’s never another Paris. Or Newtown.
But I can bear witness.
So I watch.