This is not a book review. This is me being philosophical again. You have been warned.
According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, truth is a noun (a person, place or thing) that means the real facts about something. In light of the recent events surrounding the tragedy of Malaysian Airline flight MH 17, I have been wondering if this noun truth can be found anywhere besides the dictionary. Is truth dead and no one wrote an obituary?
I look at pictures of the disaster and see the remains of an airplane torn apart, burnt remnants strewn everywhere, some with flames still burning. Then another photo shows what appears to be the wreckage in a pile as if the plane had landed and exploded on impact. I have to ask myself - are the photos simply taken from different angles or different areas, or are these pictures even of the same plane or wreckage.
No, I am not a conspiracy theorist. But in this technological world it is easy to distort the truth, even help it morph into something completely different. Words, images, and minds are easily manipulated. We see what we want to see. Or do we? Or do we see what others want us to see? Are we able to clearly see things that aren’t now or ever have been part of our individual frames of reference? And is that really seeing or is it imagining with the help of visual aids?
I watched a video of the aftermath of this disaster and a hand in the video is shown holding approximately twenty different passports. Of course, which ones does the person open and display to the camera, the ones of children. How and why did these passports survive the crash and the flames, but not the passport holders?
The camera pans to suitcases, some of which have either opened on impact or been opened for the benefit of the cameraman. The camera macabrely lingers over a bright pink suitcase packed with books etc. for a young girl, then on a child’s toy, and next a child’s drawing. The cameraman or video editor opportunistically includes only items guaranteed to wring every last tear from your eyes and permanently bruise your heart.
Yes, this is a human tragedy, a tragedy of lost lives, dreams and lost futures. But all the while pictures and videos are being shot of the human carnage let’s not forget what sells. Or more importantly, “Did you get the shot?” Don’t forget to post to Twitter, You Tube, Instagram and to share on Facebook. And if you have to use some artistic license to doctor the photo for dramatic effect, that’s okay. How many ‘likes’ did you say the photo got?
I find it disconcerting to see that the integrity of the evidence is at stake on the site in the Ukraine. I also find it disconcerting to look at photos of grim-faced men, shown in gray tones, combing a field of brilliant yellow sunflowers looking for bodies or body parts. The contrast between gray and yellow, grimness and beauty are stark and crude. And again I wonder if it’s real or photo shopped.
At the moment it appears there are those who are working hard to find out what really happened to flight MH 17. But it also appears there are those who are working just as hard to destroy evidence and hide what happened. All we know for sure is that the passenger list shows 283 passengers and 15 crew members boarded that flight. Out of respect for the victims and their loved ones I hope truth is not the unidentified casualty in this tragic event.
I'm not the only one who has been struggling with the definition of truth lately. Follow the link to one of my very favorite sites Humans of New York - photojournalism at its finest. You'll find an older gentleman sitting on a park bench who is writing a play on the nature of truth.