I remember in my days as a college athlete seeing the screen saver pictures on my athletic trainer’s computer. Various shots of people at the moment of injury flashed across the screen. Broken bones, feet or legs pointing in the opposite direction of where they should go, fascinating stuff to an athletic trainer. I also remember seeing video of the inside of an athlete’s knee. The person had to have an acl repair. For me, someone not from the training world or with interest in the medical field these images were gross.
But you know what they weren’t?
There’s been this sentiment going around that I’ve personally had expressed to me multiple times, and have seen expressed in various places that says something like this:
“Anti-abortion people display images of aborted babies for shock value.”
This statement is made with an absolutely negative connotation- as though there is something deceptive and twisted about this. They say it as though pro-life people have gone and plastered disturbing images up on social media in order to paint a picture that’s not there.
You say it’s for shock value. You’re absolutely right. It’s the connotation you give it that’s absolutely wrong.
Think with me for a moment. Please.
While I lived in Germany I had the awful privilege of visiting places that we all wished had never existed. We went into Dachau, one of the first and worst Nazi concentration camps. We also visited the Topography of Terror museum in Berlin- of which The Guardian warns, “Be aware that this outdoor museum, built on the site of the former headquarters of the SS and Gestapo, is not for the fainthearted.”
In both of these places you will find images that are disturbing. That is, shocking. Pictures of emaciated bodies, of people alive but just barely, of people being used in science experiments to test things like air pressure on pilots. Pictures of skeletons piled up- only these are not bodies that have been long left to rot, they are skeletons with skin on, waiting for the burn pile. Why post these images?
Germans know that there are still people today who deny the holocaust (an illegal offense in Germany) and they also know that all of us need to know what sophisticated and cultured people are capable of. We need to know what happened so that we never let it happen again.
We are shocked by those pictures to wake us up from the sort of apathy and naivete that we blanketed ourselves in during those times.
One of the biggest things that stood out to me in my visit to Dachau, aside from the depths of the horrors that had taken place there, was it’s location. One would think that such atrocities would have taken place deep in the woods, somewhere hidden, far away from the nearest towns or cities.
Do you know where that concentration camp stands? Right in the middle of a village. Dachau is not merely the name of the camp. Dachau is the name of the town. There are neighborhoods and houses right around it. People HAD to have knowledge of what was going on there. Yet from the other side of the wall they weren’t exposed to the visual reality of the camp. Perhaps if they’d been shocked they would have done more for those helpless souls suffering unimaginably, who were quite literally their neighbors.
The Aleppo Boy
In a more recent example, I think we are all familiar with the image of the “Aleppo Boy.” The disturbing image shows a little boy badly burned, dazed, alone. It is heart wrenching. In fact NPR posted an article whose title asks “The Little Boy In Aleppo: Can One Photo End A War?”
Part of the article says:
“There’s no disputing the power of the photo. “It’s heartbreaking, compelling, beautifully composed, scary,” says MaryAnne Golon, director of photography of The Washington Post. “Any mother in the world would want to scoop him up and take care of him.”” A burned five year old (rightfully) gets our attention. A burned baby in its second trimester should as well.
The Aleppo photo circulated for shock value. To get the world to wake up to what is really happening in Aleppo. To know that the numbers of “refugees” that we hear about are real PEOPLE with real children, with real suffering. Suffering that we might possibly be able to alleviate.
Further on the article states “The reaction to Kurdi’s image gives some indications of what a photo can do. It galvanized Europeans to urge their governments to open their doors to more refugees, as reported by the BBC, and sparked an outpouring of global giving”
We saw those photos and it was not like looking at a twisted knee. It was not like seeing an acl clipped. The pictures of the Aleppo Boy and of the concentration camp victims were gross in a sense. But more than that they were disturbing, alarming, heart rending, shocking.
When you see images of little arms and legs removed from their body, of babies blackened with burn, of the lifeless bodies of what is obviously a baby it IS shocking. What else could it possibly be? What else SHOULD it be?
The fact that pro abortion people cry that these images are used for ‘shock value’ prove that they are indeed shocking. There is still some conscience left in us. Unlike Nazi propaganda which was disturbing because it twisted truth, the pictures from inside concentration camps and the images of aborted babies, show what is REALLY THERE. The images would only be maddening if they were distorting the truth, not revealing it. And if they were pictures of kidneys and lungs or their equal, the pictures would not evoke so much emotion.
When I saw pictures of what Nazi scientists could do to other human beings I wondered how a person could get to a point where they could watch another human being undergo such horrific events and internally be unmoved. What happens to the conscience of a person who can do that to someone? Those “doctors” had truly come to believe that what they were doing was a good thing. Their hearts had become numb.
Pro-life people post those pictures in hopes of reaching the “villagers” before we as a society turn to stone inside. The walls of the womb and abortion offices hide what we know is going on but keep us from truly dealing with.
Logic and reasoning are oftentimes not enough to move us to action. But as a warning to us all, the more we are aware of, the more we shall be accountable to in the end.
So the next time you see these “shocking” images, don’t be disgusted with the people who post them. Ask yourself why you are shocked. Ask yourself if perhaps it’s time to reach out to those behind the walls.