Thursday, April 21, 2016

A boat. 500 dead. Yawn!

One of the harsh realities that I have been struggling with from my early teenage years is this--the world treats some lives to be more important than others.

I suppose if we are mere animals deep down, then we would indeed not care about some.  But, if we believe that we are better than a brutal animal behavior, then we will have to resolve within ourselves why some lives matter more than others.

I am not breaking any new ground in this blog with this post.  From the supremacy of the brahmins and whites, to ALS v. Ebola, there are posts in plenty.  I continue to think about them because, well, every day there is something happening to remind me about this lifelong struggle.

Today, it was this:
As many as 500 migrants seeking a better future in Europe may have drowned last week in the Mediterranean Sea between Libya and Italy, U.N. refugee officials said Wednesday.
If true, the toll would make the incident one of the worst tragedies involving refugees and migrants over the last year.
Five hundred died.  We will read about it, or watch it, feel bad for a few minutes, and then we will shrug our shoulders and move on.  If this flashes in our news radars, that is!
The survivors in Kalamata included 37 men, three women and a 3-year-old child. They were from Somalia, Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan.
Every once in a rare while, we do manage to do the right thing.  Like this story about "one of the girls who was abducted from the Chibok school by Boko Haram in 2014 and managed to escape."  Remember the Boko Haram kidnapping young girls?  At least there are some who cared enough.  Thanks to the efforts of Chris Smith, a representative to Congress from New Jersey, this girl and her friend came to the US.  She is now a college student--she started college in January.

If only we could focus on such profound issues that will educate us on what it means to be human!


Ramesh said...

We've been here before. Proximity, cultural closeness, scale and ghastliness of the event all affect the response.

If the refugees were fleeing from war (say Syria, or even Afghanisatn), then the risks they are taking would appear somewhat understandable. But economic migrants fleeing countries such as Pakistan or Eritrea or Somalia - I cannot understand what drives them to take such risks.

Sriram Khé said...

But, why should the death of economic refugees be any less important than the death of people fleeing the war-torn areas? We really need to figure out why the human worth is determined by arbitrary national boundaries ...

Ramesh said...

I am not saying that the deaths are any less important. What I am not able to figure out is why economic migrants take such awful risks. If you are fleeing from war, then such risks may be judged acceptable as the only other option is to stay and die. But the people who are trying to move from Pakistan or Eritrea are not facing such a stark choice. Without making any judgements on the desirability or otherwise of migration, I am simply at a loss to understand why people take such absurd risks (and also pay a huge economic price - for people smugglers aren't cheap). Its probably because of the phenomenon we see on Indian roads today - "risk there may be, but the disaster won't happen to me" syndrome.

Incidentally the economic migrants are amongst the better off , for they have to pay a fortune to the people smugglers, which the desperately poor have no way of doing.

Nothing excuses the tragedy of what happened, and alas, will continue to happen.

Sriram Khé said...

Oh, I suppose I didn't understand it this way in your comments the first time around ... I agree--they are choosing enormous risks.
But, the fact that they take such risks, and spend so much on unscrupulous smugglers, also says a lot about how they feel about their existence in their own places ...

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