I find this image hopeful because it gives me compassion for people who commit acts of sadistic violence. I deeply sympathize with the Gazans AND completely identify with this wearer. I know from sadism. Don’t we all? Who didn’t feel a thrill watching the Death Star blow up or Agent Smith disintegrate? I have felt the exquisite joy of inflicting punishment upon my deserving pets, children and wives. When Dirty Harry says, “Make my day” he means, “give me the opportunity to free myself from the behavioral constraints of my prefrontal cortex and let me indulge (for once) my basest instinct for violence. Let me be an animal for just a few seconds.” I remember the fun, during the first gulf war of hearing the FedEx parody, “the b-52 bomber, when it absolutely, positively has to be destroyed overnight.”
Seeing this shirt and identifying with it reminds me of my inner violent oppressor and thus makes other perps less monstrous and me feel more humanely toward them. Voltaire mocked, ‘Tout comprendre, c’est tout pardonner.’ “To understand all is to forgive all”. I agree but with delight. The guy in this image is no more a natural born killer than me. He, like the Gazans whose lives he so damaged, is just another poor slob born into circumstances not of his making, having reactions he can not possibly understand and subject a massively sophisticated campaign to harden his heart and awaken his inner Voldemort. The kind of campaign we’d hope civilized societies would eschew. Nonetheless there he/we is.
This image gives me hope b/c the sentiment it expresses is clear, unambiguous and easily recognizable. It makes a fabulous target at which to aim the best angels of my nature.