The last couple of days I’ve walked to work facing the same headlines in the newspapers. All of them had it printed in large: “900 dead”. The refugees’ catastrophe in the Mediterranean Sea has cost 900 lives! [And as I write it, I can’t avoid the goose bumps and the urge to shed a tear again].
This is not the first catastrophe of this kind in the Mediterranean. In the last couple of years only, these numbers have been accumulating drastically: June 2011 (270 deaths), August 2011 (125 deaths), June 2012 (54 deaths), October 2013 (366 deaths), July 2014 (150 deaths), September 2014 (500 deaths), November 2014 (24 deaths), February 2015 (330 deaths) and now April 2015 (900 deaths). Altogether, this accounts for 2719 reported deaths in less than 4 years.
As I arrive to work and start with my daily portion of Internet-based reading, I realize the news is also featured in the international media. The Guardian, CNN, BBC, MSNBC, Al Jazeera, Euronews, Russia Today, and many other media houses all report on the tragedy. They are just doing their job: feeding the information-hungry society with the most excruciating details on yet another disaster, which claimed several lives.
Some weeks ago, 148 students were murdered in Kenya by terrorists. It featured in the news as well. Some days after the fact, the news was history already.
Earlier this year, 2000 people fell victim to terrorists in Nigeria as well. Again, the news reported the fact. And it took little time for the information to be just another piece of news which made the headlines for a couple of days.
Over the last couple of years, millions of lives have been lost in such massacres throughout Africa (let us name Congo’s neglected crisis, which has left an estimated 5.4 million dead since 1998), in the war against terror and in other silent civil wars running on the streets of several African, Asian and South American countries.
Having this said, I go back to my daily reading routine and ask myself: Why does the world sympathize with the lives lost in 9/11 so much to the point that to this day, 14 years later, 9/11 is still a current topic on the speech agenda of political leaders, think tanks and media houses worldwide? Why are the lives of the 12 French citizens killed at the Charles Hedbo attack in early 2015 worth a gigantic wave of commotion, weeping, and vigils including an unprecedented repercussion on social media with its ‘Je suis Charlie’ hashtag? To be clear, I do believe E.V.E.R.Y single life is worth the same, and while I do share the pain of these tragic deaths, I question myself why the million of other lives are not worth the same impact in society overall?
It seems that it is easier to create a wave of indignation within a certain social group when the menace lies within its own boundaries. After all, it makes them think that their own lives or the lives of those directly connected to them by family, social or simply racial-ties ‘could have been’ the ones taken by terror, war, violence, social injustice, dictators, extremism, or what not. [Fair enough!?] But when the menace lies far away, does it really matter?
In short […and in a very narrow approach to the whole], why are 12 French lives worth so much more attention than 5.4 million Congolese ones? What is the true value of a human life?
It seems to me that the indifference is rooted on the minds of ‘first-world’ citizens who tend to see that people in such conflict zones are 1. too far away for them to care about (anyway), 2. uncivilized (anyway), 3. people without perspectives in life (anyway), and 4) if it happens all the time (anyway), it is OK!
NO, IT IS NOT OK!
We cannot change the mistakes of the past. But we can do something about the future where our children will live in. Indifference means CHOOSING to keep our eyes closed to a very sad truth about the world we live in: IT NEEDS FIXING! A highly educated and civilized Europe allowed the Second World War and the Holocaust to happen. And a highly civilized World is making the same mistake by remaining silent.
I am only 1 in 7.000.000.000+ people in this planet. I chose to write about this topic, to share my views on it and to pass this thought further for others to think about it. If each one of us took the chance to make something be worth ONE SHARE ONLY of a #jesuischarlie-equivalent of this food for thought, we certainly won’t be changing the sad truth that lies in the past, but we will be doing our part in making people think and care, turning THINKERS WHO TRULY CARE into an ever growing ‘minority’.
I end up this text with the same question I started it in the first place. I do not wish to leave here a solution to this theme (I do not have one after all!), but I wish to leave here a suggestion: think about it! Do not ignore it! The more we are, the stronger we are! We can make a difference! If this text touches ONE mind only, it was worth my time sharing. Now you choose what to do about it. Share the truth! Silence kills!