How Lucky You Are – To Choose What You Will See

It wasn’t a baby or toddler group, but it could have been mistaken for one. We were in Libya and I’d been invited for a coffee at a friend’s house. The group was the usual expat mishmash of nationalities; our host Palestinian, many of the women from various parts of the Middle East, as well as a Canadian, a Brit, and me the solitary Australian.

As the children played on the carpet with toys scattered around the room a television flickered in the background. I glanced at the news site, an arabic broadcast had me focussing in on the pictures not understanding the words. The host placed a cake to be served on the table, conversations were had about the weekend. I looked towards the television screen to see a dead man covered in blood, his body slouched in the passenger seat of a burnt out car. I immediately glanced towards the children and in a state of mild panic reached for the button to turn the television off.

My sense of urgency served as mild amusement to a few of the women in the group.

“Kirsty, these pictures are on the news all the time? Your children will see much of this.”

“No, neither me or my children ever see any of this. Australian television news would show the gun fire, the explosion, but they’d never show a dead body. It’s 10am in the morning! I don’t want pictures on my screen like this, I don’t want my children to see this. It’s incredibly distressing.”

“How very lucky you are, to choose what you will see.” I understood the double meaning.

This morning as the little travellers filed downstairs for breakfast I considered turning off the television. The last thing they need to see a week before their father flies home, is an attack on a commercial flight. I’d made the mistake of clicking on a news website the evening before, I’d seen the bodies scattered on the ground. I knew they wouldn’t show the same images on breakfast television – but did they really need to see the smoke and debris?

This is a morning where my eldest little traveller is excited with the news of her favourite boy band coming to Adelaide, my fourth looking forward to a trip to Kmart for more loom bands, my third with $10 burning a hole in his pocket ready to spend at the shops, and my second heading off to see a medical specialist children in certain parts of the world could only dream of. They are blissfully rolling through their summer break.

This morning as we sit eating our cereal we can’t even begin to imagine the lives of those in certain parts of the world – Gaza, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Sudan…who never get to choose what they see.

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