Our Lost Soul

OpEdHave 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.

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The Untouchables

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?

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Links to better bloggers than I for #BringBackOurGirls

http://theobamacrat.com/2014/05/13/nigeria-refuses-to-swap-militant-prisoners-for-kidnapped-girls-new-video-bringbackourgirls/

http://hrexach.wordpress.com/2014/05/13/at-the-end-of-the-day-peace/

Other Links:

http://www.equalitynow.org/node/1010

Comments

  1. OMG, this is a harrowing post. I had never seen these photos. What a way to make a statement. Creative, clever and frightening. Yet so true. We have failed our children in so many ways. I’ve never seen it summed up so expertly. Thank you, Val, for shedding light on this artist’s work.

    • Sadly Monica, most people haven’t seen them, yet they cry out to a very real and horrifying problem. Truly, if we don’t begin to speak out, hold accountable the world it will only get worse.

  2. Val,
    This post touched me. I, too, am hopelessly hopeful. My Papa (grandpa) was the first child. Way back in 1932, in a tiny community on the American side of the Canadian border called Lille, Maine, the priest of their catholic church made him an altar boy, to the delight of his devoutly Catholic family. That priest then proceeded to molest him til he moved on to younger fair. My Papa never spoke of it to his family. They never understood why when he came back from WWII, he didn’t come home and didn’t remain Catholic. They continuously prayed for his lost soul daily until his mother passed away believing he would spend his eternity in purgatory. She never knew what her son had endured. He didn’t tell them because he didn’t want to ruin their faith in God. I especially liked this sentence in this piece; “I have long since lost my innocence . . .” Awesome statement.
    Tam

  3. Reblogged this on The WordPress Blogatorium and commented:
    Reblogged to the Blogatorium. discover new blogs, make new friends, join our communities, have fun https://www.facebook.com/groups/thewordpressblogatorium/ (and for non facebook users https://plus.google.com/u/0/107780884163598533386 just started

  4. Val, yes those images are very powerful, they need to be.. We need more awareness to the suffering of little children.. It sickens me to my stomach what we subject them to.. And I wonder at the vileness of Man in his crimes against these innocents..

    Sometimes Val, this is why sometimes I think the World has to be scrapped and start all over again.. We lost our way a long time ago Val, and for many they also lost their souls..

    Thank you for this post Val…. It brings more awareness to all the suffering out there we as humans inflict upon each other..

    • It is my heart that says no, we don’t scrap it we put it out there we put it in forms people can’t look away from, like this. We start pushing visual images. Sometimes art is a medium that speaks more to our souls than other forms of communication. Perhaps, if enough of begin to find these mediums begin to push these the boundaries and stand up, maybe it begins to change.

      I don’t know Sue, I have to believe we aren’t lost.

      • I know .. we are not lost Val.. sometimes though my heart cries so much with the cruelties of the world.. I know there is only a portion of evil.. Yet so many sit complacent and do nothing… Even now in the kidnapping of those beautiful girls.. and In Syria.. its heartbreaking.. Thats why I said sometimes I think the world ought to be scrapped to start afresh..
        When really I suppose what i mean is I want to scrape the Evil off of it.. there is a difference.. Because I know deep down most people have a heart.. We just get to hear about all the bad ones.. xxxxx

  5. These incidents are enough to shake one’s faith in a just God. The images are shocking and powerful!! Society does need such shock treatment to shake it out of its apathy.

    • Faith is a hard thing to hold with the world today in the face of those who profess faith and act in conflict. I agree with you, society does need a wake-up call. Perhaps we all need it.

  6. Wow, what a powerful post, Val! Those images are horrifying but meaningful. And I also understand the distinction you make between being helplessly hopeful and naïve–a big, big difference in my mind. As you might expect, I feel as you do. I can not not hope.

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

    • Thank you my dear friend. When I wrote this I thought about some of the people who would look and not look away. Who, like me would look and weep, I thought you might be one of them. I knew you would also understand my ‘helplessly hopeful’. I also can not not hope, about so many things, hope is all that keeps me standing.

      Hugs back from the terrible and humbling Dallas

      Val

  7. Those 6 images – you gave words to Ravelo’s images.

    I once witnessed a catholic priest molest a woman – subsequently the woman and the people who were there – all denied it. I could not go to the police!

    Yes, the ‘big people’ have finally started taking notice of the Boko Haram – it might be a start but perhaps too late —-

    Peace,
    Eric

    • The monsters come out to play, we turn away. Maybe Eric, maybe we should stop turning away. Maybe it is time for all of us to stop saying there is nothing we can do and join together and say there is something. Maybe it is the quite ones, like this Pope who will begin to make a difference. Even a pebble thrown into the placid lake causes a ripple.

  8. Reblogged this on The ObamaCrat™.

  9. That is a powerful blog and should be required reading.

  10. Powerful words and images, Val. I do manage to stay hopeful, most of the time. We have, however become such an unfeeling generation, though. Still, I hope. And sometimes I take breaks from my outrage, when it overwhelms.

    • The past few days Elyse, I think I have been overwhelmed. I don’t think it was any one single thing, not one thing just simply every single thing. I felt my heart crack again. I felt my knees bend. I felt the tears slip out and my outrage bend around my soul.

      I wanted to lash out. I wanted to show the monsters. Hell, I wanted to find a monster and kick the living shit out of it, kick it until it bled in front of my, until it died. I truly am tired of monsters.

  11. That image is tough to look at, and it’s not easy to read your words either. I know that is the point though… and if we ever want to make significant changes in the world then we have to reach past uncomfortable to find them. xo

  12. Jackie Saulmon Ramirez says:

    This was powerful! It gave me the chills, really!

  13. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    I absolutely love your take on this. Making many (including me) think …. TY for this post and your analysis. Peace ….

  14. Powerful image, no doubt. I like to think that not all of us turn a blind eye. We can feel powerless as one person, but there’s usually something we can do on a small scale that can make an impact, whether it be making others aware through social media (as you are), donating to charities geared toward children’s causes (I have one in particular I like to support), or volunteering in our communities to help those kids around us. Each act alone may be tiny, but if a large enough number of people jump on board, then hopefully an impact can be made.

    • I know Carrie, which is why most days I remain hopeful for our humanity. Today, my light simply dimmed to barely a flicker, thus the despondency and perhaps a bit of fury as well. You are right though, enough of us doing something, it helps yet there is so much, 2M children sold into slavery every year, just that alone takes my breath away.

      • I wish more men would stand up and be vocal about it. Some male celebrities are, and I applaud them for it.

        • I think more are coming forward now, like you I wish we had a collective consciousness about this and so many other issues. The issue of modern day slavery is so troubling, we in this country benefit yet we do nothing, we demand no change, we continue to wear the clothing, buy the gadgets, wear the make-up never questioning.

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