Witnessing Neda Die

I watched the youtube 39 second video recording. I am 42 years old, and I had never watched anyone die. I don't think, as some Salon writers are saying, that it is damaging or wrong to watch it. To explain why requires me to talk about what happens in those 39 seconds, so be warned.

Neda is laid on the street by some men, one of whom is reportedly her father (some sources say art teacher). Her face is not contorted in pain. Her huge dark eyes dart to the camera, up, left and back again. And again. What I saw was life. She wanted to keep it. What a sacred force was there, around her face, in her arms. What a sacred force life is and what a privilege it is to even be alive and have this force in ourselves.

After a few seconds blood comes in rivers through her nose and mouth. It happens with such rapidity and force that it was difficult for me to comprehend at first.

The camera stays on her face. Her eyes are open. She seems to be looking even then for a way to stay alive. Other people say she looks calm. Not to me. She looks like she wants to live.

Unseen men around her cry out in pain. The audio is uncivilised animal pain at the departure of this life force and I couldn't help but think how every single person (even English people) have this raw connection to the people around them. Truly we are social animals and we need each other.

Then the video ends abruptly and I couldn't tell for a split second whether it had ended or whether the world stood still for her.

I cried a lot after.

So this writer for Salon said yesterday it was justified to watch videos of torture, like waterboarding, to understand it, but not justified to watch Neda die because it was just some sort of snuff porn.

I don't feel like a porn consumer, I feel like a witness. I am a witness - we are all witnesses. To this thing in Iran and to the desecration of life. I wish I could be useful as a witness, but I don't know how I can be. I don't think that making my twitter icon green is going to help that much.

It helped me though, because I am now constantly reminded of this huge thing inside me - this life force, and that it should be honoured. I have been depressed and found life a burden, and this showed me it is also a magnificent, holy gift.


  1. Thanks for this post, it is great


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