This was also posted at my Substack page:

I happened to see a video-clip of a Russian helicopter that had been hit by anti-aircraft fire. It was in flames, spinning out of control and landed in a fireball. I have seen several such videos as I’ve tried to follow what’s going on in Ukraine. In addition, there have been photos of destroyed tanks, their turrets knocked off, and other vehicles that had been ablaze.

Of course, with ‘deep fakes’ on the Internet, and the incredible amount of disinformation from all sides, one never knows what’s real and what isn’t real when it comes to stories in print, video or photos. Both sides want to sway public opinion and that’s a thing as old as war itself. It’s certainly not a behavior unknown in America.

But when I saw that crash, all I could think was that there were human beings inside. They may have already died, or they may have been in pain. If they were alive they were certainly terrified and likely knew that their situation was not survivable. What were their last thoughts? Of wife or children? Mother or father?

As death has stalked that distant country this has been true for everyone. When we see missiles or artillery strike apartment buildings or airports, when we see theaters collapse, human beings die.

These are terrible things, brought to us with such clarity and sometimes such immediacy that they can seem like movies. And perhaps our movies have hardened us to that. Whether it is the immense destruction seen in a Marvel movie or the personal (and graphic) devastation brought by John Wick’s angel of death style revenge, we consume violence and pain like so many blood-soaked symphonies and move on, as if that’s simply what we’re supposed to see every single day.

But even when I watch movies, even when the violence is fictional, I’m brought back to the reality that death leaves a chasm.

The bad guy terminated ‘with extreme prejudice’ by Deadpool would have also been a bad guy who might have had parents or children, a bad guy who wanted to be a good guy eventually, or who was in the process of doing better.

The bad Russians spinning to the earth afire were soldiers like all soldiers; people with a sense of adventure and patriotism, who wanted skills and who perhaps wanted to take their skills to the private sector eventually. (The young conscripts are a different issue of course, and perhaps their plight is more pitiful.)

Whether Ukrainian soldiers or freedom-fighters, or Russian invaders, they are human beings. And their deaths rob their families of love, support and laughter. Their deaths rob the world of their gifts, of their stories and of the futures that might well have been remarkable.

This has always been true in every age. And I don’t mean to minimize the value of sacrifice. That can be a valid end in itself. Death for a cause is not necessarily a tragedy. Death for a pointless war? More tragic than some for certain.

Even beyond war, when the police officer dies at the hands of a gang-banger, or the gang-banger dies in a hail of gunfire from a SWAT team, death wins and families, friends and society lose. The future loses. Unborn children, unmarried men and women lose.

And we are all diminished. We are even more diminished when we see things things brought to our phones, computers or televisions and view them as entertainment rather than cautionary tales or things to be mourned. We can forget that these should remind us of people to be prayed for in their suffering and grief.

So it’s wise that we take stock of our responses to the things we see on line. Death and destruction never occur in a vacuum.

But they certainly leave emptiness behind.

0 0 votes
Article Rating