Ray Rice and Our Lack of Imagination
Seeing is believing. We’ve all heard that. But today it seems that seeing is not just believing, seeing is understanding, it is comprehending at all.
We live in an age where, unless there’s some shaky, cell phone footage, some choppy security images, or a satellite feed straight from the scene we are unable to be deeply moved—toward outrage or enlightenment.
Sure, video is near ubiquitous and in many ways that is a good thing. But becoming a culture of “doubting Thomases” demanding that unless we see something with our own two eyes it either didn’t happen or doesn’t deserve our full attention is a bad thing.
We are blessed with an overflow of images. But we now suffer from a lack of imagination.
Case in point: when we heard that a celebrated athlete had knocked a woman unconscious it bothered us. But when we saw Ray Rice connect two left-hooks to the face of Janay Palmer and then drag her motionless body out of an elevator it stunned us. It outraged and motivated us.
The footage is shocking. But should it be surprising? What did we think had happened in that elevator? Many of us had long since read about the incident but only in seeing it did the culture rightly respond to the incident.
Images are good. Video is great. But I find myself having to be careful. Images inoculate. Being able to look makes me lazy in listening.
I fear that when all my hurting or scared neighbor has to offer is words I might be less motivated to respond, less likely to help or care.
I worry that, in my darkest moment when all my God gives me are His promises, I'll be comforted little.
I worry that my world, and I myself, might suffer because of my lack of imagination—because of my inability to see the truth without seeing images.
Seeing is believing, sure, but when seeing is the standard for action, empathy, and attention then seeing is crippling. It makes callous, cowards out of us all.
May we not miss out on offering mercy to another human being or believing deeply in God because they lack footage. When words are all we have may words be all we need for action, for justice, for soul-saving belief. May we fill in the gaps with engaged minds and deep faith.
Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 29:20