Two days after I first cast my eyes on the YouTube video that’s making waves around the world, I’m still haunted by it. Rarely is this the case for me. The raw power of the Neda video is so intense, alarming and haunting that you’d be forgiven if you can’t view it. I’ve seen it. I’m a different person now.
Even now, I’m watching the video of Neda Agha-Soltan in her dying moments with an unsettled, angry, awful feeling at work.
She casts a knowing, piercing look at the camera that is recording her. I’m not sure what she was thinking at that moment, nor do I want to know. Perhaps she was wondering why she was being filmed. Or what kind of gaze she was imparting to the world when she looked into the camera. I don’t know. She glances over at us, telling us the raw horror of the moment. I can’t pretend I’ll know what that feeling is. I feel guilt for watching such a private moment.
What’s happening in Iran right now is transformative in ways that are rarely understood nowadays. In the age of Facebook and Twitter, it’s undeniable that we’re facing the first Internet-led major revolution, well, ever.
But now I look upon the video of Neda — a now-global symbol that is spawning outrage across the world for the vicious, terrible death to an innocent at the hands of twisted, theocratic tyrants and their cronies in the Revolutionary Guard — and I get the power once again of what one single image, video or sound can do.
These moments in time — fleeting moments, indeed — are always brief, for they’re impossible to replicate and profound in their affectation. It’s a temporary, albeit fleeting, unmasking of a truth we’re generally afraid of facing. It’s why we look upon such devastating moments in history, sometimes, by looking away. It is profoundly uncomfortable to face this kind of truth. It’s raw truth, and history, especially in the 20th century and beyond has had a few moments like these:
Rest in Peace, Neda. The revolution seems to be coming in your name.
For those of you who haven’t seen this video, here’s a link (Warning: Very Graphic)