What Can’t Be Unseen

I’ve been fairly open here that I have PTSD. For those of you who don’t live with this particular beast, it is a fiery one. Most times it is just there, like scars from a bike ride gone wrong back in elementary school days. But then things trigger it and it sets off a maelstrom of emotions. For me, sometimes that looks like a leaf on the wind trying to float to the earth rather than plummet. And sometimes it looks very different.

On April 15th, we all know a terrible thing happened in Boston. And many of us know it because the images of the bombings were all over every media outlet. From the beginning, before I realized what was happening, I saw photos of the carnage.

And since blood is a major trigger for me, I immediately started a PTSD struggle.

A crazy aspect of my personality is a bit of OCD, especially when my PTSD is acting up. So there I was for an entire week, trying to avoid pictures of bloody carnage, while having a need to read everything written about the story.

I think many people had some level of similar experiences: horror over the brutal images, but a desire to know more.

Let me be clear here. I think the deaths and injuries of the people in Boston that day are horrific and the reasons for their deaths and injuries are beyond horrible. I am a person of faith and I cannot imagine any faith worth having that inspires violence.

But I am curious how many of us sat glued to our televisions over the other tragedy that happened that week?

On April 17th, 15 people were killed and over 200 were injured when a fertilizer plant exploded in West, Texas.

And while the news was important and people responded, I have yet to hear a clamor over it. The death toll was higher, the injury list longer, the destruction of property worse. And yet, no one sat glued to the tv waiting to find out what happened. Wanting to find out what motivated the perpetrators of the tragedy.

The primary difference? There weren’t people standing around waiting to capture the moment on their cell phones, video cameras, or cameras with telephoto lenses.

Without the images of bloody faces, lost limbs, gore and distraction, the explosion in West, Texas was a story we could set aside.

And yet, I cannot.

In Boston, two men did something terrible for reasons seemingly wrapped up in religion and brain-washing. They rationalized that death was a price for others to pay because of their own feelings and faith.

In Texas, a company did something terrible for reasons seemingly wrapped up in making more money. They rationalized storing 270 tons of ammonium nitrate (anything over 400 pounds must be listed with the Department of Homeland Security) because it is cheap in the fertilizer business.

In Boston, agencies may or may not have been able to have keep this tragedy from happening.

In Texas, agencies would have kept this tragedy from happening if they had inspected the plant — it hadn’t been inspected since 1985.

In Boston, we all saw the horror of a man with his legs blown off. Those images can’t be unseen.

We didn’t see the horrors in West, Texas. If we had, would those images be unable to be unseen as well?

I don’t think so. I think as long as our national tragedies are at the hands of people who value the almighty American dollar over human lives, we will continue to turn the page looking for interesting news stories. After all, the pursuit of money is a honorable thing, even when it kills innocent bystanders.

4 thoughts on “What Can’t Be Unseen

  1. This touches a nerve (in a good way) – I also have PTSD, and I appreciate you sharing about it. I feel a little less alone, especially when reflecting on my own reactions last week.

  2. Thanks for sharing about dealing with PTSD – I also deal with it, and this post helped me feel less alone as I reflected on my own reactions last week. I totally get what you’re saying here: “Most times it is just there, like scars from a bike ride gone wrong back in elementary school days. But then things trigger it and it sets off a maelstrom of emotions.”

  3. Bless yer heart, some of us can never seem to look away in time, either from the screen, or from our own internal sights and sounds.

    Somehow it’s supposed to seem less reprehensible when someone causes a catastrophe ‘by accident” in the pursuit of commerce than when someone causes such on purpose. To me, in some ways it’s worse, because someone just didn’t care, or at least not enough.

    Thanks for sharing the hard stuff as well as the less hard stuff and occasionally the easy stuff.

  4. I haven’t heard this put in such an eloquent and heartbreaking way and it’s so true. Thanks for taking the time to remind us about the others, the ones not in the forefront of the news cameras. Hope you’re feeling better.

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