There is a price to looking at a picture.
In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, many found inspiration and hope in the pictures of those who came to the aid of the victims. Between the first responders, the out of town marathon runners who donated blood, the spectators who jumped railings to help out, to the many bighearted locals who opened their homes, there was an amazing out-pour of goodwill and kindness.
I’ve heard many people speak about the good to come out of this horrible situation. I thought about that turn of phrase: the good to come out of. How can good possibly be attributed to a moment where so much bad happened? A part of me just didn’t feel right making a spectacle of a silver lining, while there was a family mourning the loss of their son.
I wonder about the people in pictures who engaged in heroic acts. Did they care to be celebrated at all by the media? Or were they simply doing what they knew was right in the most unthinkable of circumstances?
In all honesty, I felt guilty looking at the pictures. Specifically one of a man cradling an injured woman. It felt as if I was rubbernecking in the most intrusive way. I could never understand the victim’s pain or the strength of the man who held her, but I stared at this one private moment in the safety of my home and drew meaning in it. A moment, that for them will likely haunt them for the rest of their lives. Although I admit to finding inspiration in that photo, the burden of knowing that I was cherry picking from the true weight of that moment felt wrong.
When tragedy strikes, we all try to find the good that comes out it. Though we may find a glimmer of good, it is difficult to shake the circumstances that surround it. Which makes it imperative to take what inspiration we draw, and use it to do some good in this world. It is not enough to find affirmation in the human race. Nor is it not enough to feel empowered and appreciative of your life. The sight of civilians running towards the explosion, should not just give you pride alone. It should be a calling to not wait between great tragedies to help out another human being.
I don’t know what happened with that man or the woman he shielded, but I will always be indebted to the memory of their moment. Indebted to not turn a blind eye. Indebted to learn to drop my guard. Indebted to care and act on it.
That is the price of looking at a picture.