When I wrote Monday about pornography of the spirit I had no idea that anyone else was thinking along the same lines. Although he points to a different conclusion, Gerard Vanderleun was struck about the same time with the same idea.
...who among us is not moved by endless images of dead babies sheathed in blood, body parts hanging by a shred of gristle, with the blank stare of eternity glazing their eyes? What "civilized" person secure in their happy world of languid summer days, mall festivals brimming with second-rate food and third rate crafts, concerts on the lawn with wine and traveling minstrels, could not want this distant tribal slaughter to stop, stop, stop this very instant?
To see the Bloody Shirt, as the Hezbollah in Lebanon drag their children from the rubble and parade them before the world, is to want all replaced with the Rainbow Flag immediately -- no matter who must suffer, no matter how many Jews must die in that distant country where, "After all the Israelis aren't so much Jewish as they are Zionist oppressors who, if they just gave up a little more, would be left in peace. I mean, look at that. Children are dying every minute there. Have you no compassion, sir? Have you, at long last, no compassion?"
In my work these days I see all the dead-child porn coming out of Lebanon and Gaza. In a way, I have too. I don't link a lot of it along. The Western media is doing that job for me to a fair-thee-well. I don't like to think I'm becoming used to it now, but I am.
One of the downsides of the work I do these days is that you become numb to suffering. One of the downsides for those who are manufacturing dead-child porn in the Middle East is that they know the West becomes numb to your ordinary dead-child porn after a bit. And so they do what pornographers always do when the suckers don't get that rush any longer, they make it more base than ever before. One of the iron laws of porn, be it the porn of sex or the porn of violence, is that there really is no bottom to it.
If I may quote myself...
...only through a serious exercise of the will that I myself have been able to control unhealthy predelictions while surfing. The dangers presented here are no less life-threatening than those of alcohol, gambling or any other of the temptations of the world that can scar, even destroy our humanity. And before the reader jumps to the conclusion that I refer just to pornography, let me quickly add that there is a pornography of the spirit that is every bit as addictive and damaging -- an atavistic impulse that feeds our appetite for violence and revenge, a very mortal and human need to justify collective sins that take the form of war, euthanasia, capital punishment, abortion and the rest of the ways by which we degrade and justify the taking of human life. There are plenty of websites, many on the blogrolls of the most respected names of the blog-world, whose principle grist is meant to keep the fires of revenge burning hot, typically in the guise of patriotism or religion. I read a few myself, but only by way of keeping up with that they themselves would call "tracking an enemy."
No need to make more of this. I simply need to note this moment of "synchronicity."
Those of us who eschew violence have more subtle ways to wield guilt as a weapon. I cannot speak for others, but my aim when I do so is to prick the spirit without killing it altogether.
Comfort the afflicted -- afflict the comfortable and all that.