Some readers resented The Washington Post for publishing an Associated Press photograph of a critically wounded Iraqi child being lifted from the rubble of his home in Baghdad’s Sadr City “after a U.S. airstrike.”

Two-year-old Ali Hussein later died in a hospital.

As the saying goes, the picture was worth a thousand words because it showed the true horrors of this war.

Neither side is immune from the killing of Iraqi civilians. But Americans should be aware of their own responsibility for inflicting death and pain on the innocent.

The Post’s ombudsman, Deborah Howell, said about 20 readers complained about the photo, while a few readers praised the Post for publishing the stark picture on page one.

Some mothers said they were offended that their children might see the picture, though one wonders whether their youngsters watch television and play with violent videos in a pretend world.

From the start of the unprovoked U.S. “shock and awe” invasion of Iraq on March 20, 2003, the government tried to bar the news media from photographing flag-draped coffins of American soldiers returning from Iraq. A Freedom of Information lawsuit forced the government to release pictures of returning coffins.

Howell said some readers felt the photo of the Iraqi boy was “an anti-war statement; some thought it was in poor taste.” Well, so is war.

Howell said her boss, Executive Editor Len Downie, “is cautious about such photos.”

“We have seldom been able to show the human impact of the fighting on Iraqis,” Downie was quoted as saying. “We decided this was a rare instance in which we had a powerful image with which to do so.”

It’s unclear to me why this was deemed to be “rare.” After five years of war, there is finally one photo that is supposed to say it all?

There is a cost to staying disconnected from acknowledging and even embracing pain and one’s role in the causing of it. We are paying that price as a people and a nation.

In Fanueil Hall in Boston is a mural depicting the signing of the Declaration of Independence, where all the signers gathered in concert to free our country from tryanny. John Adams late in his life (he lived to 90), who lived in Braintree, upon seeing it, said we have lost the history of our nation already.

To speak of these things on a regular basis is not something I see as pessimisism and brooding, or denial of my success in life and the blessings I have. The pain in life happens, and cannot be denied in the long run, actually. Allow it to numb you and you lose the happiness as well.