2008-08-01 / Letters

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Dear Editor:

As a weekly reader of The Wave, I cannot agree more with the letter to the editor from Tia Ivory, classmate of Patrick Hernandez. To see gruesome pictures or stories about young people killing each other on the front page of the paper every week is devastating. I cannot imagine the pain felt by family and friends, to have to go through the experience of losing a loved one and then have to be reminded again in a picture.

I was Patrick's teacher at M.S. 53 and I remember him very well. My heart is broken thinking of all the dreams, the brilliant future and contributions that have been lost with his passing.

Looking at the photograph I asked myself: why front page? I have always objected to this kind of sensationalism in reporting. But then, reflecting on all the distressful things that the youth in this community have to go through, I forced myself to re-think the value of such a decision on the part of the newspaper. We all have a mission in this life, and I hope that as heartbreaking as this photograph was, it will serve only one purpose: to remind everybody that this could be you, your friend, or someone in your family. I hope this image reminds us that violence has a name and a face, and that we all have to participate in the change; that we have to stop thinking that this only happens among "them," a term that many use to identify young people involved in criminal activities, and that we ALL have to start taking responsibility because this is happening to "US." These are our children, our families, our friends or our students. This is happening to our community. "It takes a village to raise a child," says it all. We all need to get involved. This is not a game. You cannot turn off the play station and start a second round. Most of the time there are no second chances. Violence is a serious problem in the Rockaways and in the whole world, and it is up to us to put an end to it.

Hard as this is, we can talk all day about the devastation of violence but

nothing will shake

one's heart more than an image. Images are powerful. That's why advertisers spend millions of dollars to feed our brains with every image possible. That is why video games are visual; to stimulate our senses in a way words won't. That's why photojournalists are being censored, to prevent publishing pictures of mutilated or dead casualties of the war. That's why Lenny Rosenblatt was offended by Sarnoff's editorial comment in The Wave a few weeks ago. That's why people get upset when images remind them of the Holocaust. Because once you see it, you become part of the horror and no matter how hard you close your eyes, it is still there and it hurts, and you get very upset, and hopefully it will push you to take action and to try to do something about it.

Yes Tia, you are right, the picture must have hurt many in the worst way, me included. But I also hope it hurt them in the right way, and many saw the lesson embedded in it; that violence is senseless and it must stop.

I hope that Patrick's family and friends can realize that even in spirit, he still has a mission. I hope that his life will serve as inspiration for greater causes and greater changes. I hope that because he was loved and respected more young people will live by his example; that his dedication and his efforts won't be lost and his dreams won't be forgotten but instead they will become the dreams of every young person on the peninsula. I hope that one day images like this will be erased from the face of the earth.

NORMA ALLENDE

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