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Our nation is experiencing a tumultuous time of divisiveness, terrorism, racism and prejudice. Over the last half-century, which is my lifetime, we have witnessed countless disturbing images in photographs and videos, on newscasts, over the Internet, and in person. The current polarization seems inevitable due to all we have seen, and has damaged many of the bridges that unite us.

            Confrontations during the civil rights movement, attempts to deny desegregation, the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., killings at Kent State, members of the Israeli Olympic team murdered in Munich, airline disasters, wildlife covered in oil, wars viewed over televisions, beheadings, shootings, and bombings.

These are images that cannot be unseen.

Planes crashing into the twin towers and the buildings collapsing, bombs detonating during the Boston Marathon, communities destroyed from hurricanes, tornadoes and tsunamis, bodies covered in white sheets along the seaside promenade in Nice, and lives and families shattered as a result of Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, Orlando, Baton Rouge, Dallas, and other attacks.

These too are images that cannot be unseen.

Dr. Roxane Cohen Silver, Ph.D., a professor at the University of California, Irvine, has conducted research on the impact of repeated exposure to images of horror since the September 11th terrorist attacks, and states, “Back in 2001, most people learned of the 9/11 attacks via the television...now people are learning of these kinds of tragedies via social—as well as traditional—media, where graphic images are being distributed instantaneously because people are carrying the news in their hands all the time. We have found that with increasing exposure to graphic images and repeated hours of media exposure, individuals report greater stress responses. Specifically after 9/11, increased hours of early television exposure in the week after the attacks was associated with mental and physical health problems 2-3 years later.”

In light of these pictures that cannot be unseen and that burrow into our consciousness, it is no wonder our spirits are shaken, our psyches are battered, and the fabric of our country is threadbare.  

I am not proposing to forget these images or not to look at them. I am suggesting that instead of dividing, these pictures can unite. Unity can be achieved when we realize an attack on one is an attack on all. Harmony can be attained when we acknowledge that when a storm barrels over a community it is all of us fearing for our lives and the lives of those we love. Accord can be accomplished when we accept that an environmental disaster on Three Mile Island, at Chernobyl, or in Alaska’s Prince William Sound is detrimental to all.

            While many sights over the last fifty years are unsettling, there are those that are uplifting and unifying. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin planting the American flag on the moon, Tank Man blocking tanks in Tiananmen Square to protest violence, the dismantling of the Berlin Wall, President Obama being sworn into office as our first black president, video of Saddam Hussein after his capture, supporters of same sex marriage rejoicing when it became federal law, and people hugging police in Dallas.

Our psyches and our spirits are tattered as a result of horrific images that cannot be unseen. We must continue to create, to cure, to help, and to heal so the troubling images of the last fifty years no longer divide our nation, and future disturbing photographs unite us.

Joanne Lewis Blog

joanne lewis

When Joanne Lewis is not practicing law, she is writing. She pens murder mysteries, historical fiction and historical fantasy books and is the author of several award-winning novels. As an author, she hopes to entertain, to educate, and perhaps to enlighten. As an attorney, she is most proud of her work as an assistant state attorney and as a guardian ad litem representing the best interests of children.

Her books are available on Kindle, as paperbacks, and as audio books.

Her latest release is Bee King, a historical novel that is about the first person in the United States diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, and takes place from the start of the Civil War until 1910. Just like the people who inhabited Five Points in lower Manhattan during the 1800s and the turn of the century, Bee King traverses the pentagonal streets where abolitionists battled copperheads, immigrants clashed among social, religious and political strife, and doctors and psychologists strained to help patients. Told in Five Points (sections), Bee King is dramatized through conventional literary devices as well as through newspaper articles, a manifesto, and other non-traditional tools.

The Forbidden trilogy consists of the novels: Forbidden Room, Forbidden Night, and Forbidden Horses. Forbidden Room is her best-selling novel.

In Forbidden Room, the first book in the Forbidden trilogy, new attorney Michael Tucker has few clients, yearns to be like his famous grandmother and cannot afford to move out of his parents' home. Sara Goldstein is an heiress accused of killing her uncle. When Sara hires Michael, he gets the chance to defend an innocent person, a beautiful lover and notoriety like his grandmother. But is it more than he asked for? Is Sara innocent or is she a murderer?

Forbidden Night, the second book in the Forbidden trilogy, delves further into Michael and Sara’s complicated relationship, as well as into Soldier Boy’s psyche, into their family histories, and into the creation of the carousel horses. The question posed in Forbidden Room, the first book of the Forbidden trilogy—Is Sara innocent or is she a murderer—is answered.

Forbidden Horses, the final book in the Forbidden trilogy, travels to the eighteenth century and takes place in Austria to reveal the troubled history of the creation of the carousel horses.

Michelangelo & Me is a series of five novellas in the genre of historical fantasy.

In the first book of the series, Michelangelo & the Morgue, seventeen-year-old Michelangelo defies religious and political powers in order to capture a serial killer who is murdering the artists of Florence. In Sleeping Cupid, the second book, Michelangelo’s believed-to-be lost statue narrates his journey from fifteenth century Florence, Italy until the present day where he lives in an attic in a sleepy Florida town. Future books in the anthology include Space Between, School of the World and Michelangelo & Me.

The Lantern is a historical novel about a modern-day woman's search to find a girl from 15th century Florence, Italy who dared to enter the competition to build the lantern on top of Brunelleschi's dome. Across time and space, three lives collide as they battle abuse, disease, fear and prejudice in pursuit of their dreams. Along the way, they intersect with some of the most famous figures of the Renaissance including members of the Medici, Filippo Brunelleschi, Donatello and a young Michelangelo.

Wicked Good, a different kind of love story, begins in Bangor, Maine. Fifteen-year-old Rory is not defined by his diagnoses of Asperger's syndrome and Bipolar Disorder and lives life to the fullest. Archer, his adoptive mother, is Rory's biggest fan. Rory searches for his birth parents to find out why he is the way he is. He discovers his roots in Salem, Massachusetts where the Salem Witch Trials had occurred, and in Gloucester, Massachusetts where fishermen went down with the Andrea Gail during the Perfect Storm. He also learns his true roots are closest to his home in Bangor. As Rory discovers truths about himself, Archer learns about herself too.

Make Your Own Luck is the unforgettable and moving novel of Remy Summer Woods, a young attorney who refuses to believe thirteen-year-old Bonita Pickney killed her father, Patrick Pickney. Remy risks her relationship with her own father as well as her life to prove Bonita's innocence. Along with learning what happened the night Patrick was murdered, Remy discovers hard truths about her family and herself.

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