There is often a great deal of emphasis put on the victim(s) of tragedy, crime or inconceivable hardships. I agree that the emphasis is well justified. However, there is no emphasis whatsoever, put into the by stander and how witnessing a horrific event can be devastating on the human psyche. If there is a witness, weather it is watching a crime unfold, watching cancer eat away at a loved one, watching suffering in general, there is another side of pain that needs to be acknowledged.
An example would be a child growing up witnessing domestic abuse among their parents. The child was never abused but they seen their mother bring beaten. The haunting effects of witnessing that violence is a demon that follow them their entire life. The witnesses pain is real, it’s malleable.
Being a witness subjects us to the same pain but there is a different kind of pain. The pain of helplessness. The pain of trying to accept there was really nothing you could have done. Sometimes, all you are supposed to be is the strong pillar the victim can stand against. An unmovable anchor to help them ride through the storm without going under.
Yet as a witness, you still feel uneasy with the slightest memory of the pain you witnessed another person endure. Empathy is beautiful but it is also very real, almost tangible. Like freedom it comes with a price. I guess in this life sometimes we are the pillar, and at other times we need one to lean on. I read a few books regarding the holocaust of the Jewish community in Germany and it was from the perspective of the bystander, the German who can’t do anything to stop the madness and who doesn’t agree with the evil actions their government has taken.
To witness inhumanity, even though you are protected for some superficial reason be it your race, class or religious association is almost just as painful as enduring it. Some of the Germans hid their Jewish friends in their attics and basements at the possible risk of losing their own lives. Others chose not to put themselves at risk and had to watch as women, men and children were gathered and killed like cattle.
If you have an ounce of humanity flowing through your veins, witnessing such evil and enormous suffering will eat away at you. This blog really has no goal but awareness to the acknowledge the bystanders, the witnesses whose eyes or hearts were never really prepared to see or feel the tragedy of another. We each have our own journey in life and whether you are a victim or a pillar, it means something for your to see it. It means something because it will propel the elevation of your evolving consciousness and it is written in the direction of your destiny.
Let what you witness open you, to the yin and yang, the beautiful and the destructive spheres, that create this life. Take it in, in all of it’s totality.
By Janell Hihi