Thursday, 17 May 2007

Humanity or Bust

“Hath not a Muslim eyes? Hath not a Muslim hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections passions, fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons,subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh?If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. If a Muslim wrong a Christian, what is his humility?”[1]

I have done a very good job of avoiding most media in recent weeks and in the past couple of days happened to find myself watching the news in the mainstream media for the first time in a few weeks (and I wish I hadn’t to be honest).
When the story of Robert Murat (suspect in the Madeleine McCann case) broke what little I did glimpse on front pages and in news headlines had him pretty much portrayed as psycho/paedophile/general nutter– all without any evidence but hearsay (which might as well be official sources).

Now the media now seem to be back tracking rather significantly.

The reason I mention this is the initial reaction from people I know (who +do+ watch the news) was “They’ve got him”. Mine was – “and why is it on TV – where’s the evidence? So what if he acts strange, is that proof etc?” Innocent until proven guilty with the populace as with the media did not enter the equation.

Now that the media are relenting (and I say this having heard the media report Mr Murat’s friend resolutely deny the charges and of a Russian suspect just reported on this evenings news at Ten) and those same people I heard saying “they’ve got him” now have doubts – why doesn’t this happen with Iran etc?

The building up of a bogeyman is a stalwart of the media but when it comes to deconstructing the bogeyman as the evidence mounts proving innocence, why doesn’t the media recant i.e. no it wasn’t Iranian weapons expertise but the good old republican guard expertise? The humanity that the media portray that we should embody is to admit our mistakes, yet their own faux pas (e.g. the fake evidence against Iraq being a very good example) are always left unsaid and unrealised.
It is interesting the volume of column inches, despite the personal resonance, given to the Madeline case when compared to the utter devastation children in Iraq are experiencing or indeed any other suffering by children worldwide. One deserves our sympathy and compassion where the media draw us to reflect on our own humanity and our own compassion. As a parent (or a sibling, a aunt or uncle a grandparent) we are made to feel that we should connect with this family, yet when contrasted with the deep psychological suffering of the children of Iraq which truly beggars belief the media barely warrants them a mention. Indeed they draw our thoughts as parents to cases of western children but never do they draw our compassion for the children that suffer across the globe in the name of capitalism, the Washington consensus and corporate greed. The millions of children that die simply so a pharmaceutical giant can maintain its intellectual rights are not important in the face of their profits and the greater good of the economy.
Imagine the pain an Iraqi parent suffers daily. I can’t, but even contemplating it as I look at my baby daughter brings tears to my eyes. If I ever lost my daughter I would be devastated beyond words or comprehension. It is something I fear but must live with for it is something, ultimately, beyond my control. But where infant death is a rarity in the West, it is not so in Iraq where child Mortality has increased at a world record level from 50 to 125 deaths per thousand and one third of the population live in poverty[2]. Nearly four million Iraqi’s[3] have been displaced in the “biggest movement of people in the Middle East since the Palestinian refugee crisis after the establishment of Israel in 1948.”[4] Now imagine the suffering that the children of Iraq are experiencing? Imagine where “70% of primary school students in a Baghdad neighbourhood were suffering symptoms of trauma-related stress such as bed-wetting or stuttering”[5] Imagine the trauma their families are suffering. Imagine lifting the corpse of what once was a beautiful life, that of an innocent child.
I don’t mean to draw similarities with the Madeline McCann case lightly, being a father I find the case very disturbing and I hope Madeline is found alive and well. But, as a parent, I find the world my children are growing up in, the world of conglomerate greed, senseless war and utter lack of compassion for others far more disturbing.

We can but hope for a better way and whilst there is love, compassion and humanity left in the world, and despite the reality that the media both present and hide from us, there is still hope.

“It is very easy to fall into the way of pride of jealousy to think that we are better, more enriched than others, when really we are only realising ourselves through others. We are all sharing the One Love that we are part of”

[1] Quoted (with obvious amendments) from Shakespeare
[2] Pity the sick of Iraq, Bert De Belder, Al-Ahram Weekly,
[3] Four Million Iraqis Forced To Flee Their Homes: UNHCR, United Nations, 11th April 2007, [4] Middle East fears broken Iraq, Jeremy Bowen, BBC News Online, 22nd March 2007,
[5]Dirk Adriaensens, Iraq’s education system on the verge of collapse. with thanks to Media Lens for proving this source in their media alerts

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