Be careful, little eyes
TECHNOLOGY HAS CHANGED the news business in many ways. One of the most notable is how cell phones have made amateur journalists out of all of us, able to capture dramatic moments for the rest of the world.
For example, some of the images from the search and rescue efforts in the aftermath of the recent earthquake in Turkey and Syria have been terribly moving. But sometimes what’s offered for our viewing is just terrible, and what do we do then?
My answer comes in the form of a repost from some years ago:
I have long held that many Christians are far too namby-pamby when it comes to bad news. They avoid the unpleasant realities of the world as if by doing so they are somehow being spiritual. In reality, they are proving that old saw about being so heavenly-minded as to be no earthly good.
If we won’t face the ugliness of sin, then we can never experience nor appreciate the beauty of redemption. Let’s remember that when Jesus came preaching the “good news,” the Bible says, His first word was, “Repent.” That’s not ignoring the nastiness. He faced it head-on.
And yet there is a fine line to walk here. We can wander from the firm ground of holy honesty to the swamps of careless curiosity. There are some things we just don’t need to know too well.
That’s why I am not going to be looking at any videos of the latest ISIS atrocity, the slaughter of 21 Coptic Christians, decapitated on a Libyan beach.
If it’s true that the eyes are the window to the soul, then this latest slick—with blood—offering is another “smash-and-grab.” It’s like a block of concrete hurled through the panes. Those throwing it want to reach through the gap and snatch something from us.
I am not saying we turn our backs on what is happening. But I do believe that most of us should avert our eyes. I have read enough to know that ISIS kills people cruelly, coldly, calculatingly. I don’t need to watch.
There must be some eye-witnesses to history: protectors, press, prosecutors. But that strikes me as primarily on a “need-to-know” basis. They go and see on our behalf. For the rest of us, there is no need to know all the gory details.
So when ISIS releases another video from its horror vault, I will read about it, but I will look away.
I choose not to watch out of repugnance. I will not give the perpetrators one click of undue attention. They do not deserve my interest.
I choose not to watch out of respect. I will afford those whose last minutes of life were stripped of dignity a measure of honor. I turn my head aside not out of disinterest, but in deep regard.
I choose not to watch out of regret. I have lived long enough to know that some things can’t be unseen. Even if they don’t get shattered, the windows of our souls can get stained by what we give our attention.
I don’t need to watch pornography to know that is harmful. And I don’t need to watch grotesque violence to know that evil is in the world.
Long before curiosity killed the cat, it got this world into the mess we are in today: the fall centered on something that appealed to our visual senses. Maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise that the name of the terrorists who goad us, “Look! Look!” sounds like it has “eyes” in it.
The old kids’ Sunday School song puts it well: “O be careful little eyes what you see.”
The world doesn’t need heads in the sand. But the world doesn’t need to see heads on the sand.
Originally published as Sometimes it’s best to turn away, February 19, 2015
2 Responses to “Be careful, little eyes”
Hello, dear Andy! I have been gratefully reading your work for years, and have regretfully neglected to respond when I have so often meant to do so. I appreciate reading your writing not only because it provides a bit of connection to our shared past, but also, and mainly, because I am so impressed by your unique way of communicating things we need to hear in ways that make them easy to take in. You don’t offend, but you do challenge. You don’t over-pontificate, but you definitely get your point across. And I’m also pleased to see that your sense of humour remains intact in all of it! Thank you for this work you do that benefits many, and sorry for this very belated and wordy message! All God’s best to you! Jan Kennedy
Thank you, very kind 🙂 I replied privately…