Friday, November 22, 2013

Violence and Love

The anniversary of JFK's assassination has me thinking about violence and familiarity. Bear with me. 
 You have undoubted seen the news clips recently like this one about the brutal "game" that bored teenagers have been "playing" on innocent strangers. (Side note: I realize that there is controversy regarding the potentially racist lean of these clips in filming only African American teenagers. Black, White or Purple aside, I believe that we can all agree though that this is brutality.) 
I think that what so many of us can't wrap our heads around is the WHY of this violence. WHY would someone use deadly force on a complete stranger minding his/her own business? WHY are these teens laughing about their friends smashing the skulls of fathers waiting at bus stops, and teachers walking home from work? WHY can't these kids see how easily the victims could be someone that they love?
 I think that the answer has less to do with hate than with numbness. I'm talking about the kind of detachment and apathy that comes from being removed from the other living human beings around you. We all know how much easier it can be to yell some obscene thing at another a driver than it is to say the same thing to the person who cuts in front of us in the grocery store line. Zipping past, behind the anonymity of our car windows, we don't need to have the same accountability for ourselves. Lets face it: when we live/work/learn in unofficially segregated neighborhoods, and then spend so many of our waking hours communicating with even the most familiar people through the screens of our personal devices, we can become a little detached. Maybe a lot detached. Maybe even detached enough to laugh about real live people being murdered in the name of fun.
I think that we all wish that we had some easy solution to violence. I wish that I did. I do know though that familiarity breeds respect. It is harder to scream and punch when you've shaken someone's hand or looked in to her eyes. That is why I love this photography project.
Talk about faking it until you make it. What do you say, Friends? Can we try to look at each other with the compassion of the familiar? There are bigger things at play here, but I believe that really seeing the people around us can go a long way.
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