Down with watching suffering.
It’s all over Facebook and e-mails and the news and phone conversations and tweets - this absolute love of hating things we don’t agree with to push an issue.
In the yoga world there has always existed this "meat porn" obsession – “Watch this video on how your hamburger is made” - with the hopes of turning you to vegetables by shocking you with the horror of meat. This shock value is becoming increasingly popular. Sometimes we see videos of someone torturing a dog, or a story about a reporter shooting a lion; photos of some alleged letter sent to or from someone with a message to someone else – like a father to his daughter about his gay grandson, or a memo on a restaurant bill about the people on table two. It just has to stop. It’s become the biggest sensation. And then the adage is, like good townspeople, we rise up with our pitchforks and torches and all click like in outrage and protest.
The clicking of “Like! Like! Like!” has become our generations version of “Burn the witch!” I’m done with it - this mob mentality. Are there some things that need speaking out against? Yes. I think some issues in the world need to be addressed. And I also believe that social media sites offer a wide variety of interests and ideas on a new platform that is growing more and more as an acceptable means of communication. But this new porn has to go and let’s bring back the old porn. The one where you know people had sex with each other and made out and they stuck things into each other because they wanted to and were old enough to be consenting about it.
I think in many ways movies like Slumdog Millionaire opened the door to it being more popular. "Poverty porn" hit the big screens and we sat back, ate our popcorn and watched a cinematic portrayal of the horror of homelessness and rampant child abuse, kidnapping and torture. It started to open the door to other kinds of the same.
Food Inc. goes one step further and opens your eyes the horror of what happens to animals. This idea of shock horror – to hold us and captivate us and pull us in with a visual and sometimes sound experience is overwhelming.
There is an old saying that the eyes are the windows to our souls. If that is true, then not only looking into our eyes do our true selves shine out, but what we view makes an imprint on and in to us as well.
There is something to be said that while torture exists in this world, it is quite another thing to watch video after video of real life people actually being tortured. Suicides exist in this world too, but again it’s a another thing to watch someone in their last few moments take a shotgun to their head and pull the trigger. Yes. These videos actually exist. But I honestly do not think we should watch them. These images leave an imprint on us and not always for the better. We cannot un-watch an image.
So when you look out into the world, be it real or virtual, choose what you want to see, and how you want to see it.
Yes, things exist out there that are not always pleasant. In Buddhism we call it dukkha, suffering. It does exist in spades in many places and in many forms. But it’s time to look beyond it. If we fixate on the problem, all we will ever see are problems. It’s time to lift our head, turn our eyes and focus on a better way, a solution, a new way of living and existing. That is something we can all aspire to.