Have you ever been struck through the heart by an image, something that simply stops you in your tracks or takes your breath away. An image of terrible beauty or terrible tragedy, something heart stopping. Humans are mostly visual by nature, they say men are more so than women, I think we all are though. Things aren’t real too us unless that thing of beauty or horror is directly before our eyes, even then there are times we can look away if we are able to say, “Not mine, not like me, not my neighborhood, not my country; or some other ignorant bullshit that allows us to disengage.”
Lately, I have been following the story of the Nigerian kidnapped girls, I know many of you have as well now that mainstream media has finally picked it up. There are people throughout the blogosphere who have done a far better job than I at compiling, tracking and presenting information, the links to their blogs are below. I am grateful for their diligence and their care. What they have done as part of a global effort, is I think miraculous; it is also heartbreaking. Heartbreaking to know the world stood by as nearly 300 young women at the beginning of their lives were whisked away from their schools and families and we not only didn’t know but in truth didn’t care until we were forced to pay attention.
I said to a friend I hold dear to my heart, “I remain helplessly hopeful”. I even sign my emails to him this way, as a reminder perhaps, he does not share my sentiments. The truth is, I know the world is terrible. I know through my own life and experience the world can be an abysmal and dark place inhabited by monsters. I do not remain helplessly hopeful out of naivety, I long since lost my innocence sacrificed on the altars of other men’s gods and desires. Yet, I believe in hope and redemption, individually and for humanity if we would only stop our selfish and purely personal pursuit of ‘me before you’, turning away from anything that makes us uncomfortable or doesn’t fit our worldview, like this.
Uncomfortable aren’t they? The first time I saw them I was frankly horrified, then I looked more closely. I understood them, instinctively I felt the message rather than saw the offensiveness of the image. Eric Ravelo, a Cuban born artist works in several different mediums; he is a sculptor, painter and multi-media artist. The images above are from his latest work titled The Untouchables for the UnHate Foundation.
Each image sends a different message, each crucifies a child on the back of a ‘known’ and unrepentant oppressor. Known to us, known to society at large and yet we uncomfortably turn away from the image, ‘not like us, not our problem, nothing we can do, not in my neighborhood, not my country’, or worse still, ‘not my religion’.
The first child sacrificed on the back of a Catholic priest, a pedophile the Vatican has covered for, for far too long.
The second child, victim of the sex tourism trade, sexual slavery primarily in Thailand but prevalent in also in Brazil, Vietnam, India and right here in the good old US of A.
The third child a victim of the terrible war in Syria, faceless and horrifying as they starve and choke on chemicals, as they are murdered in their homes. Children as refugees from war, they could be anywhere not just Syria.
The fourth child, perhaps the most frightening image is a child sacrificed for his internal organs on the black market, where most children come from poor countries and most purchases are the wealthiest nations and the wealthiest within those nations.
The fifth child, specific to our nation, the USA and its propensity for guns and their death dealing, particularly the killing of our children.
The final image, also pointed mostly at our nation is a condemnation of the terrible food industry that poisons our children, while pointing mostly to obesity and its relationship to the fast food industry I think we should see beyond this to the entire food industry including big agriculture, sugar and GMO / chemical poisons.
How does all this relate to the kidnapped girls of Nigeria? We turn away from them in the same way we turn away from the children these images represent. How does all this relate to the kidnapped girls of Nigeria? We turn away from them in the same way we turn away from the children these images represent. We ignore the approximately 20.9M adults trafficked every year into servitude, including the 2M children exploited in the worldwide sex trade.
We ignore children exploited everywhere, working in unsafe conditions, in garment factories in China, Mica mines in India; we don’t give a damn. We ignore children starving in our own streets. We turn a blind eye to children sold into sexual servitude everywhere in the world, unless they are blue-eyed and blond, look like us. We ignore nearly 300 young girls in Nigeria, until it is likely too late.
I try, I do try to maintain a hopeful heart. To not weep for our seemingly lost humanity. Sometimes though, it is hard. I find myself on my knees and my tears simply won’t seem to be stopped by my will alone, I weep for the loss of compassion and empathy, the loss of our shared humanity, our inability to reach out and offer simple kindness across borders because it is the right thing to do.
I have to ask, what happened to us as a people. What in the hell is wrong with all of us, have we simply given up hope and stopped believing in the usefulness of our own humanity?
Links to better bloggers than I for #BringBackOurGirls