One aspect of daily living that had to be adjusted to when I was living in Jordan was the difference in media standards. The levels of quality and professionalism, the relative lack of press freedoms due to state control of the media, and the editorial judgments about the suitability of certain topics and images--all were new to me.
Eventually I learned how to read between the lines, to identify the agendas and the conflicts of interest, to understand the euphemisms, to recognize that what is not being communicated is probably every bit as important as what is, and to view the Jordanian propensity for hype with amusement. As one sophisticated but cynical local friend helpfully explained to me, just read the articles and appreciate that what is really going on is probably closer to the opposite. I preferred to take a chirpier, sunnier outlook and view the local media's accounts of events in the country as though they were written by Walt Disney to sell the kingdom of Jordan as the happiest place on earth.
The images, though. Just when I thought I was acclimating to the larger appetite for gore, the limits of my acceptance would be tested. They were severely tested in the aftermath of the Amman hotel bombings on November 9, 2005. Severed heads and limbs, bodies burned beyond recognition, brains lying apart from the skulls that once protected them, pieces of flesh too small to determine what body part they were once a part of or even the gender of the person to which they once belonged. I will probably never be able to get those images out of my head. Maybe it's not a bad thing to be confronted with the cold horror of such crimes, but nothing in my soft, cushy American life had prepared me for that.
Today I was checking out the Web site of Petra, the Jordanian news agency. And I stumbled upon these amazing/disgusting/eye-popping images:
For the love of God, I hope that woman is feeling much better now. Dr. Dennis and Dr. Jitu, can either of you explain to us lay people how someone can grow a 25-kilo tumor and not be killed by it? What happens to all the vital organs displaced by such a mass? Do they spring back? Is it possible to walk around and function normally? How painful is something of this size? And what happens to the tumor now? How does one dispose of such a thing?
Please excuse me while I make an appointment to have a full body scan. . .
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For All Women Foundation