In my last post, Emily made a comment that she sometimes ‘feels guilty’ when she turns the page away from the image of a person in need.
I don’t know that I’m necessarily implying that there should be guilt involved; I think it’s something different that I’m not yet prepared to categorise. There is something larger involved in the connexion between the person photographed and the person who chooses to view the image.
Of course, we are saturated with images; like the people who are involved in a disaster who have no choice, we sometimes have no choice to view or not view an image of it. The disaster is brought into our living room or on our desktop.
This is why I have an issue with the people who send ‘pictures of children with flies in their eyes’ to my grandmother asking for funding for one cause or the other. Yes, the need may be legitimate; but they have not given my grandmother a choice to become involved or not. They have forced her into the situation and I wonder if this is not also a kind of secondary violation.
People should be aware; people should seek out a knowledge of world situations; I am truly frustrated with the censored images of war we see here in the States. However, I wonder if we need more training for people to discern how and when to engage in these issues to make our response more effective. Otherwise we risk desensitising ourselves to the reality of it. We risk the double violation of taking someone’s photo and exposing her to the eye of another person who cannot or will not respond in a way that helps either her or the viewer; there is the risk of violating one and traumatising the other.