Unit 3 Assignment 2 – Jake Matthews

Chapter 1: Men are the creators and the profiteers of war, but all people are the victims of war. War can never be abolished, it is only hoped that genocides and as many wars as possible be prevented and that the perpetrators of war crimes be brought to justice. Photographs of the destruction of war serve to remind people that war ruins lives, and that there is no war that is “another person’s problem;” we must all take responsibility for war. To use citizenry as targets in a war is to make the war a political matter of fear and tyranny. The victims of war, and the photographs there of, are the fuel of the militant. Violence is not always the wrong path. There is always more suffering from war than what is recorded.

War is an inescapable facet of human nature, because despite the constant evidence of the pain and the destruction it sows, humanity is addicted to reaping it.

Chapter 6: There is a sexuality in death, and the violation of pure flesh that is depicted in war photographs. People crave gruesome sights; more than that, we fetishize violence and cruelty. There is also a beauty in suffering, an exaltation of religious proportions in the pain and despair of torturous barbarism. It is easy to be apathetic to suffering, so long as there is no immediate danger to oneself, the rest of the world is easily dissociated from. Indifference comes not just from overexposure, but also as a response to fear. Compassion for suffering quickly wilts if not put to use, and cynical apathy soon follows. Sympathy is an illusion in complacency that makes one avoid the guilt of allowing atrocities to happen.

As sickened as we may be by the death and destruction of war, we are also enraptured by it, and complacent to despise it while lying to ourselves that we are unaffected and powerless to do anything about it.

Chapter 8: There is a positive aspect in broadening one’s understanding of the depravity and despair that wickedness has created in the world; it is an aspect of maturity. No adult has the right to be ignorant to pain of this manner. Pictures remind us that people are capable of horrible atrocities, often even voluntarily. Memory is our only link with the dead, and it is an ethical act to remember, but memory must be limited in order to reconcile and move on. Mass media has increased the spread of information regarding war and suffering, this creates the illusion that there is more suffering than in the past. Certain images are propagated more than others because they are more interesting and therefore sell better, and people can easily change the channel and ignore whatever they wish. People need to think critically about the why and who of what they see, not just stew in their own moral disgust. The frustration of being unable to change the world leads to people resenting the spread of the images. There is no moral flaw in seeing atrocities and contemplating them, as a function of the mind is to absorb information and pass judgements and make decisions based on that information.

There is no moral flaw in seeking out photographs that widen one’s view of the world, even if what one finds upsets them.

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