How does this image make you feel? Uncomfortable? Nauseated? Disgusted? Enraged? It makes me feel all of those things. This is what Nazism accomplished. Over the course of Adolf Hitler’s reign, over 6,000,000 Jews were placed in concentration camps, starved, and murdered. That not to mention the other groups he targeted, such as homosexuals, and gypsies. The death toll was staggering.
What about this image?
We all know about slavery, and we all know it was wrong, but how many of us can say that we really feel the impact of it?
We all know what occurred, so why show pictures? Because reading about Auschwitz is different than seeing the consequences with your own eyes; reading about slave beatings is different than seeing the scars on a real person’s back. Reading gives us intellectual understanding, but seeing tears into our heart, and drives us to action. And without action, intellectual understanding is less than useless. Images, and film bring us closer to dark realities than anything else.
Why understand something if we do nothing about it? Why understand something on an intellectual level if that understanding does nothing to change the way in which we behave, or the way we think? Visual stimuli is the tipping point between complacency, and action.
There’s a reason behind the saying “a picture’s worth a thousand words.” According to Jay Cross:
We humans are sight mammals. We learn almost twice as well from images plus words as from words alone. Pictures translate across culture, education levels and age groups…the richness of the whole picture can be taken in at a glance.
Sarah Lawrence of Getty agrees:
Visuals help us tell our stories quickly with impact and emotion. But they have to be the right visuals. And when the visual is a powerful one, be it an image or video, the effect is magnified…Powerful visuals evoke emotions, driving a deeper engagement and more profound change in behavior…
Simply put, what we see sticks with us far more effectively than what we read about, or hear about. I know this from personal experience, as I’m sure you do. So, we return to my question: Why show emaciated Jews from Nazi Germany? Because it makes a much deeper impact than any text-book description ever could.
Given that, there is so much more to be seen.
We are fighting a war with a radical Islamic ideology in ISIS, but millions of Americans do not truly understand the nature of this enemy. They may have read about it, or heard about beheadings on the news, but until one sees what is happening with one’s own eyes, one cannot fully understand the evil we are facing. Complacency is dominating.
This week, ISIS released a video of captured Jordanian pilot Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeh being executed. ISIS soldiers locked him in a cage, soaked him in lighter fluid, and burned him alive. The video is easily found online, and in my opinion, should be viewed. The following image shows Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeh’s last moments as he is being burned alive.
How do you feel? Do you feel differently than before? Does this image resonate more deeply than my description of his execution? When I heard about the execution, it was just one more horrific act committed by ISIS. But it took watching the video–which I did just prior to writing this–to truly grasp their wickedness. I was in tears watching the footage. I hope it does the same for you, because although it is difficult to stomach, to fully engage the darkness we face, one must look directly into its eyes, unflinchingly, and without fear. It is only then that we can fight back
We cannot be complacent; we have to feel what is occurring. As you go to the gym tomorrow, as you sit on the couch, watching Netflix, as you eat a warm meal with your family, and as you sleep safely in your beds, remember these images. Know that just across the ocean, men, and women are being tortured, thrown off buildings, stoned, decapitated, and in other ways viciously murdered for the sake of a twisted Islamic ideology. It must be stopped.
Christians, Muslims, and anyone else who stands in their path is to be slaughtered like Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeh. They have no compassion, and they have no mercy; they are, in the most simple term: pure evil.
Seeing is believing, and seeing leads to true understanding. Now, given this knowledge, we must ask: What is our government doing about ISIS? Who is fighting to eliminate them? Why are we not doing more to help these people, and send these savages to hell?
If you’re ready, here’s the video.