As a child of the 1970s and early 1980s, the only exposure I ever received to world events took place during a five-minute segment on the evening news. The American TV broadcaster ABC would always place a red band in the top left-hand corner of the screen with the name of the foreign news location where the story was taking place. It seems sometimes as if the only memory I have of world news during those years is from Berlin, Moscow and Afghanistan.
In 2009, I can read in real-time about events unfolding on the streets of Tehran, Mogadishu and Lhasa. Within seconds of an event taking place, video flashes across programs like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. And the news is still rarely ever good.
For the last week, I have followed a perfect stranger’s experience on Twitter. I only know him or her as @change_for_iran, a self-identified student participating in the nation’s Green Revolution. When I realized earlier today that this person stopped posting to Twitter, I started searching for real-time news out of Iran. Within 30 seconds, I found a video of a young woman bleeding to death on the streets of Tehran, allegedly at the hands of the Basij, a pro-government militia.
I flinched at first, but then made myself watch all agonizing 30 seconds of the video of a precious young woman dying. In the comments below the image, people argued back and forth whether the video was made today, or if it was in Tehran or Esfahan. To all of them, I simply ask: Why does any of it matter?
Human beings have certain fundamental rights – human rights – including the right to self-determination, and yet, with something as seemingly novel as Twitter, the entire planet can watch as a young lady bleeds to death, all because she stood up for her basic rights. We, as humanity, should be outraged.
And yet, there’s reality. So many of us, myself included, are caught up in the whirlwind of our daily lives, distracted by the new restaurant down the street, or by a new version of the iPhone, that we literally lose sight of the fact that we are interconnected. We simply cannot see that, when one of us falls on the streets of Tehran, or suffers under the military baton in Lhasa, or loses a fight to drugs and gang violence on the streets of Washington, D.C., every one of us suffers.
Somewhere today, a parent is wondering why her daughter has not yet returned home, fearful, perhaps, of that green piece of cloth tied around the young girl’s wrist. And at some point in the future, the man who pulled the trigger and the man who ordered him to do so will have to come to terms with the blood on their hands.
The girl and the men involved in her death are my brothers and sister; I can only pray and ask for prayers of compassion and loving-kindness to prevail.
Photo credit: The New York Times