by: Marceline Donaldson
I remember when Emmett Till was murdered. The horror of what happened to him didn’t strike me until I saw him in his open casket. Once you saw the reality of the brutal way he was murdered; once you saw his face which was unrecognizable; once you came close to the reality of the side of human nature which could do such a thing to another human there was no turning back.
I was very young at the time and good and evil were concepts I learned about in Church. They were not real for me although I mouthed the words, until I saw Emmett Till in his casket.
Image is the stuff on which this society is built. Emmett Till’s mother ignored maintaining her son’s image and opted to have him on display in an open casket. Much talk circulated about that decision – mostly negative about Emmett Till’s mother with the comments basically asking “hasn’t he suffered enoough” – “do we have to put his body through such a public display” “why can’t she grieve in private and keep those images away from the rest of us, it is enough to have to deal with what happened to him”.
Once the wake and funeral started there was little to no disagreement about her decision because the affect of seeing just what a few humans did to one child was overwhelming. To see Emmett Till’s open casket brought up such pain and agony in those who looked at him – for me it brought up the reality of who we really are as human beings and what evil we can wrought. Her decision brought about major change.
It is time for the world to see the evil, wrought by guns in the hands of people who are sometimes good and sometimes evil. It is time to see what human beings can do to their children. It is time for the world to see the physical evil done to the children of Uvalde Texas. It is time for the world to feel what anger, rage, jealousy, bigotry, hatred can do when it is supported by guns of war. Once you have seen that there is no turning back. You will see those images repeatedly for quite some time and the world needs to see with their eyes what guns in the hands of evil has done and will do again.
The pictures of the children and their teachers need to be made public for all to see. Their caskets need to be open when the time for viewing arrives so all of us will bear some of the guilt of their death. All of us need to share the pain that parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and friends have been carrying since that massacre happened. We all need to see what the guns used will do and has done to hundreds of children and their human body. We all need to be aware that there are humans amongst us who can do such and walk away. To talk about how awful that can be; to discuss what happened to hundreds of children will not have the deterrent affect that actually seeing the children dead – shot to death with guns that make them so unrecognizable tests have to be taken to identify your own child.
O God, do you also bear the pain of the children, their parents, their friends, those who barely know them but who have suffered much because they have and live within a human spirit capable of such horror. You show us daily the good and the bad of which we are capable. If we can stick spears into the side of Jesus. If we can give him vinegar to drink when he calls out in thirst. If we can torture and kill in the most horrible way the son of God, how much more can we do to each other. Eons of time pass and we show just how much terror we can inflict on one another. Eons of time pass and we show just how little love and caring we have for one another. We can see another human being living on the street in minus 20 degree weather and mumble ugly words denigrating that human as we pass by with no feelings about that person and the situation in which they find themselves. How long, O God, will we be in such a place living with such a spirit as inhabits us all.
When we have to debate whether or not the pictures of the recent massacre of children should be shown to the public; when we have to decide what would be too much for others to see; when we protect those who need to be given a look at who they could become, what are we doing? Protecting others from the rawness, the pain, the horribleness of those acts or are we protecting ourselves and setting others up for another time when some one with our human spirit gets wrapped in the evil of which we are all capable and acts out the destruction of life in a most egregious way.
Open the doors, open the windows, open the caskets, publish the pictures, let the world see who we could all be if set down in the right circumstances for such to develop.