Soapbox Issues

Oh the humanity


In the last couple of weeks, I noticed something that disturbed me a fair bit. It’s not something new. It is something I have seen before, ranted about before. But this time around, it saddened me. My heart is still heavy.

A cathedral in Paris burnt down some time last week. A freak accident of sorts. I woke up to my housemate telling me about it as she watches the morning news. No one died but all the news channels were constantly talking about it and asking people to send their photos and memories of visiting the Notre Dame. People obliged. My social media feed was filled with photos of Notre Dame and people’s memories from years ago. And then, there were billionaires from around the world offering to pay huge sums of money to restore the cathedral. Because of course, the Catholic church really needs the money.

While the social media photos left me with a strange indescribable feeling, the offers of money resulted in outrage on my part. Why all the money for a religious institution that doesn’t lack any? Why all the grief? The tears? I figured it had to do with the cathedral being part of the western world. The first world. Had it been a monument in a developing nation, had it been an indigenous artefact in our own country, it would barely draw a murmur.

But I let it go.

Until I couldn’t.

Because on Easter Sunday, terrorists struck. This time in Sri Lanka. Innocent people died in places of worship. Buildings crumbled too but more importantly, people died. Men. Women. Children. Regardless of my views on religion, this is devastating. People who were going about doing something they believed in – just like those in Christchurch last month – were killed due to hate.

My social media feed was very different this time. There were a few who mentioned feeling devastated but otherwise, nothing. No one shared photos of a time when they were in Sri Lanka {which by the way, has become a popular tourist destination}. The media appeared to cover it for a while but once again, in my opinion, it didn’t seem to garner as much empathy or grief as a building going up in flames. Oh, and no billionaires came rushing to the aid of the Srilankans. None at all {that I know of}.

A day later I read this article and it was about all that had been brewing in my mind.  There is this theory that Paris or New York or Europe is more relatable to us all which is why we grieve and react the way we do. But I have a question – aren’t we all human beings? Don’t we all know what it is like to suffer the loss of a loved one? Can we not empathise and realise what it would be like living in fear? Can we not imagine what would happen if we were going about our daily routines only to have bombs explode around us? Surely we’d be able to relate more to other human beings than to a solitary building! So why then does something have to happen in Europe or America for us to feel a sense of outrage? Why do we not express the same outrage and pain when it happens in Sri Lanka or Sudan or Syria? Why do we not want to learn more about these issues in other countries?

I know the news of the world can make you weary. It makes me weary. When I see so much hatred, when I see lives lost, it breaks me. It is also why I take occasional breaks from watching the news for my own wellbeing. But that doesn’t mean I’m not aware of the overarching social injustices. And while I know commenting on social media and writing about these issues is not going to change anything drastically for the people living them, I hope that by being aware, it means I am more mindful of how I treat others. Ignorance isn’t bliss.

It’s only by listening, by empathising, by understanding more about these issues can we better ourselves as human beings. It’s only by paying attention to the world as a whole, to all human beings can we learn what breeds the hate that kills. It’s only by understanding injustices and unfairness can we learn to be kinder and fight those injustices even if it doesn’t affect us personally.

I know for a fact I won’t change the world. But I also know I am privileged. And if anything, I need to put that privilege to good use. If that means I do it through my writing, through my work with young people, and I get to spread kindness and awareness, so be it. And all I can hope for is that somehow, it passes on.

Because goodness knows we need a bit of kindness in this world.

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  • Denise
    27 April 2019 at 3:24 am

    Thank you for writing this!

    • Sanch @ Sanch Writes
      27 April 2019 at 6:31 am

      You’re welcome. I feel like it’s not very coherent but thank you for your kind words

  • Reema D'souza
    29 April 2019 at 3:49 am

    I agree with you! Not many of us are concerned with the innocent lives that are lost in these little countries. That feeling of empathy is lost somewhere. We need to become more sympathetic and concerned for the innocent lives that are lost every day.
    Reema D’souza recently posted…The Weekend #NaPoWriMoMy Profile

  • Corinne Rodrigues
    30 April 2019 at 4:58 pm

    We’re too busy fighting over which religious community the terrorists are from, Sanch, to realize that loss of human lives is the biggest loss of all. Period. I remember when the Taj Mahal hotel was under siege in Mumbai, many people were worried about the building getting damaged!