Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Sometimes sadness is good; Time to Reflect and Change



 I write this post after reading about a new exhibition (the violence of IS or ISIL or whatever) at what I would call the most offensive but felt worthwhile museums in the country. 

Last Summer I visited a former local jail near Cinderford, Gloucestershire with Louis, Falcon and her family. Littledean Jail itself looks like a fortified house from the outside and was in a use a police station and a prison but in 2012 the old building was refurbished (in places) and turned into a museum of crime through time. Some of the reviews you may have read about it will include words like graphic, offensive and shocking but I would still recommend you (as long as you are a sensible enough adult) go and visit it in the same way I would ask you visit a concentration camp from the Nazi holocaust or a town such a Oradour-Sur-Glane at least once.

Each prison cell and room of the building is filled with pictures or exhibits of serious crimes varying from British serial killers through to KKK and Nazi uniforms. In one cell you see the artwork of convicted murders and ponder their mental state whilst in the next room you are confronted with items made from the flesh of those murdered in the aforementioned concentration camps.
 


Local resident Beth Taylor, from Berry Hill, said: "I don't think it's in the best of taste. Nobody wants to see those awful [images] of what is actually going on."

However, another local, Linda Hornchurch, said it was "good to make people aware of it".

Quote from BBC’s Newsbeat
 
 Picture with thanks to BBC / Littledean Jail
  I completely agree with the quote from Linda and would even go one step further. I think our GCSE-aged children should visit places like Oradour-Sur-Glane or concentration camps and should be aware of that is “actually going on”. The point of history is not just to learn what happened or why it happened but to make sure that humanity does not make the same mistake or allow the same atrocities to happen twice. Part of me lives in fear that my 12 year old sister with her generation of ipads and 300 TV channels will only learn the ‘rose tinted’ version of history and will never appreciate the marvels they have. I never fully appreciated the marvel of having a PC with a 3.14mb floppy disk let alone my Game Boy Colour. Think about it? That My Little Pony or Power Rangers figure; millions of people died in the last 100 years so you could have that and most of them were not in the field of battle.

Yes – what you will see at a any of these places will be shocking and somewhat graphic but can you say it is any less graphic than a 18 rated horror film? There is an argument that violent media such as video games and film desensitise us, especially when we are young, to these horrors. This is why I argue a real life visit to these places would open our eyes to true reality of the violence we (as a society) are apparently accustomed to.  Perhaps the romance of violence would be less appealing.

Oradour-Sur-Glane was a small town in France destroyed during the Second World War. In what is believed to be some misguided retaliation, a Waffen-SS company came into the town and murdered the residents. Some were shot in their houses, others lines up in the town square and some gathered and killed with grenades in the church. The wreck of the town still stands today in France near Bordeaux and can be visited for free. The memory of my visit is clear in my mind. Bullet holes in walls. Cars still parked, unmoved, exactly where the driver was murdered. On the 10th June 1944 over 600 people, many being women and children, were murdered and yet we as a society forget because in the bigger picture of World War atrocities, it is an insignificant event. But, I would argue when you are stood there looking at the graves, the relic of houses and shops, you sudden realise how significant every life is and how significant an event such as this is to the beauty and benefits of today.
Taken days after the event

Pictures and stories just don’t have the same effect.

Today

I hate being scared. I hate horror but I somewhat enjoy visiting places like this as I would enjoy visiting any museum. My rationale is, surely we owe those who have died for today the benefit of a few hours of our time to reflect, remember and learn as a person and as a species. Those few hours, just one time be at any of the places I’ve mentioned but also at any museum or cultural event  would be will invested because to ignore the history, especially the more shocking and gruesome aspects of it, is a censorship and dishonour we should not allow.

And to those of you who read this and say that “I’m sad enough as it is” or “I’ve read all about that stuff before”, I simply ask you donate a few hours of your time. When you see and then understand the context of the books you’ve read or the films you’ve seen, you will find you leave better appreciating the 'paradise' of what you have and how lucky we all are to have it.

You’ll probably still hate Monday mornings though. :)


 Thank you for reading my blog ;–
 What museums or site do you think are forgotten about like Oradour-Sur-Glane? Should we ever censor history? Are we as a species in a better place (in terms of ending  violence and improving our learning) today than we were 60 years ago? Let me know on the comments below.
  

Finally, talking about somewhat unnecessary violence, I co-produced and presented almost 5 hours worth of live content on YouTube earlier this week. Off The Radar watched Wrestlemania in a Gogglebox style and perhaps because it is ‘staged’ and the violence was limited, I have to admit I quite enjoyed it. Over 500 people have watched so far.
   You can relive the comedy of our broadcast on my YouTube channel or listen to our regular podcast covering comedy and the forthcoming General Election at www.Facebook.com/OffTheRadarPodcast

Tweet me @MattStreuli