The Personalist Project

Accessed on September 23, 2020 - 12:45:29

Martyrs on Video

Devra Torres, Feb 18, 2015

The other day I shared a message urging people not to watch the ISIS video of the beheading of the Christian Copts—so as not to play into the hands of the terrorists—but instead to share the martyrs’ names and pray for them and their families.

As I expected, nobody objected to the names and the praying, but my friend Lisa’s response took me aback. Lisa is one of the most generous and thoughtful people I know. She has a lot of credibility with me. Here’s what she said:

While I personally don't have the courage nor the heart to watch this I can't help but remember the Germans of WWII who refused to look and refused to see. I believe the Holocaust happened, on the scale it did, in part, because the people looked away. I believe there is a resurgence of Nazism because people have forgotten what we should never forget. Although it is heartbreaking and soul sickening we must never forget that evil is real as we love the Christ who looked over the city and wept and had compassion on them because "the people were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd."

She added:

My heart and mind go back to those old WWII liberation of the concentration camps films where the liberators force the German people to tour the camps for the 1st time. …One of the most striking things about these films is how the Germans initially approach the camps laughing and talking "just as if they were on a picnic", the narrator intones. But that all changes when they are forced to see what they have looked away from in their own backyards. You see, when only the military had to be involved and aware of their doings, nothing changed. But when the German people could not look away any longer, were forced to open their eyes, they came face to face with what their blissful ignorance had purchased.


So now I wonder whether those videos should be dismissed as “death porn.” ISIS differs from the Nazis in some respects, of course, but in others, not at all. I’m still thinking it out, but here are some aspects I’m considering:

immersed in a culture of therapeutic relativism. Even if we believe in absolute good and evil, there’s no growing up unscathed in a culture that denies the truth in a million ways with a million mouthpieces. And the therapeutic aspect teaches us that there’s no such thing as evil, just diagnosable disorders. Besides, you owe it to yourself to feel good. Watching unpleasant and horrific realities don’t make you feel good. Ergo…

So, I still won't watch or spread the images arbitrarily. But my conclusion is not very rousing or very certain. It comes down to “There’s a lot more to this than I thought.”

Maybe we can all agree to pray, though. Here are their names as recorded by the meme that started this train of though: