I don’t want to get shot. That’s what it boils down to.
This may seem like an obvious admission, because no one wants to get shot. Perhaps it speaks to my sheltered existence that the threat of physical violence has such a hold over me, or perhaps it makes me human, but I do not want to find myself in a situation where other people have weapons and the authority or desire to use them.
Sometimes I think that I am a pacifist because I have never had to fight for anything in my life.
But there is the question of war reporting.
Today in class my professor asked us,
If we were in Bosnia during the war, or somewhere else where people were being tortured, starved, and killed, and we knew that if we talked to them, they would most likely be killed, would we still perform the interview?
I was the only person who said, Yes.
A friend put it best, Journalism exist to give voices to those who have none. Going into places where people are dying and telling their stories is the only thing that can be done, sometimes. A single person cannot help all those people. But sometimes a good piece of reporting, a strong piece of writing, can.
But just this week, two French journalists were abducted and killed in Northern Mali. Reporters Without Borders puts the number of journalists killed this year at 45. In the US media, the only journalists you hear about are the ones who make it through to the other side. (The French are much better about it.)
I truly believe that going into war zones and civil wars is a worthy and powerful choice. I think it would produce a life of purpose. But I cannot silence the voice in my head that tells me that I am not cut out for such a task. I am too soft, too sheltered, too weak.
I cry when I read the newspaper, how well would I really fare in those situations, experiencing those stories first hand?
Sadly, the University of Massachusetts, Amherst is not the sort of place that is in the habit of producing an overabundance of war correspondents. Who do you ask how it is to look death in the face?