I’m not recommending watching the whole above clip. In fact, I didn’t see all of it. But it does make the point I want to make too, that video penetrates the brain much deeper than a picture or just words.
One of my rabbis is a gentle man. He’s neither an extremist nor someone susceptible to extremism from others. But one day, he comes with the concept that G^d can’t be held to the same ethical standards that apply to humans. That is strange as He tells us that He created us in His likeliness.
What made my rabbi suggest something like that? Well, he doesn’t own a TV, as we would expect. But he went to a conference and was housed in a hotel. And in his room was a TV. Being away from his daily newspaper, in all innocence, he switches on the small screen to watch the news.
But he’s not used to such deeply penetrating video. It’s like you had ear wax building up and then suddenly removed. All noises are so strong. He watches the news and gets deeply shocked. Pictures of an earthquake in China with hundreds of children dead. The quake happened under school time and many schools collapsed. How could a good G^d permit this?
He had to find an answer so he came up with the solution I quoted above.
Yet, many other less extreme answers are possible. So did it transpire the builders had cheated on the building codes. The schools did not collapse because of the earthquake but because the schools were not made earthquake-proof. When you do something careless, you can’t blame G^d.
So why did my rabbi not think of that? Firstly because the horror he saw alarmed him so that he had to react immediately, so he didn’t wait for the reports coming in about the shoddy constructions. Secondly, I guess that the sight of so many young victims was a deep test to his faith so he felt he had to find solutions. This especially because others were not so shocked (pardon the pun). They either had no TV and were spared the shock he had felt or they always watched TV and therefore were desensitized.
A very same thing we see with reports of police brutality against Black males in the US. It’s happening for generations. But now it’s caught on video. People see it and are shocked to their core. All over the world.
G^d and Joshua tell Moses (Exodus 32:7, 17-18) that the people threw off their yoke and were rebelling before he descends the mountain. But only when he actually sees them (ibid 32:19), he throws down the Stone Tables.
Seeing is more than believing. Seeing is becoming shocked.
I’m probably one of the very few who haven’t seen the pictures of the policeman kneeling on George Floyd until he was dead. I don’t need the violent pictures in my brain to be shocked, horrified, or come in action.
For me, hearing is shocking enough. I welcome this tool for awareness, the pictures and the video. But I’ve seen enough deeply disturbing stuff and don’t need any more of it. Nor do our children.
I’ve seen some heaps of emaciated corpses in concentration camps. I’ve stopped looking at them. I know enough and I’m not a masochist. I need my brain to be calm to confront evil. There is a time to be upset and there is a time to be calm. A Dutch saying goes: Calmness may save you.