Our last remaining bit of shame is being dot-commed, with a young girl's pixilated eyes looking back at us from her murder.
I'm watching this atrocity with up to date technology, as I sit here typing. I remember a time when some techno-utopians thought that the global village would tilt us toward peace, as the violence became so vividly fore-grounded, the bleeding too painfully bright red, the searching for loved ones too real, and the eyes. Her eyes are more piercing than ever.
But reports of war's death were greatly exaggerated. Our acceptance of violence has grown with our consuming of deadly products. We watch wars, produced at great expense, with thousands of special effects engineers and Oscar-winning death scenes by trained method actors. And when a real war sneaks onto our screen, what can we do? Continue to watch.
Victims come to us as information, across the landscape of information, in the age of information consumption. And this makes the viewing experience of this child not different than the many children that we have watched burned and cut toward death. We are image predators, sitting in traffic, in trains, at home in our techno-cockpits, saving the bombed schools and hospitals to clouds overhead...
We repeatedly click on this harmed look of the children's faces. Harm to the helpless is among the basic movers of media-as-product. "The pain of others" - Susan Sontag's famous phrase - is a mover of container ships and cargo planes full of products, and ranks in sales generation up there with sex, status, power and fear.
Our inaction has not changed over the years, even as the speed of information rose to everywhere-right-now. Our shrug of the shoulders, our "Well, what can you do?" is the same. Then again, the opportunity that comes to us with another child's tragedy hasn't changed either. I see that one of our bombs has killed a child and she looks at me before dying and she gives me something that overwhelms all the information, the startling realization that I could personally change so much that I could save this life.
This girl's eyes could stop everything and start everything else. Her eyes could stop a series of violent consumptions that burn a fuse that ignites the American ammunition dropped from the whistling jets of religious nuts who bomb refugee camps. You think I am being sentimental? ...because the Peace Movement in our country has all but vanished? Yes, there will be Peace. It is waiting for us, close by. Peace is in this girl.
I imagine that her name is perhaps Shaymaa al-Masri. I imagine her before the bomb or mortar exploded. She is seated on the ground. She is looking at her hands and legs. She is looking out from screams and gasps and bodies going silent. Her little body must feel like it has never felt before.
She rights herself. She takes care of her doll, settling into this mad smoking place full of shock. I wonder at the power of her love. The doll and the girl have the thing that we lost.
She watches her family see where she landed and an older boy pulls her up and begins running toward an idea of where to run. Then a person with a camera towers over her, then crouches before her, and as if replying to our bomb Shaymaa sends her life everywhere.