Friday, April 19, 2013
Just Another Day in Baghdad
It’s a strange world. A few days ago there were the bomb attacks in Boston. At least three people died, with almost 180 casualties. Everyone would agree that this was a terrible tragedy. Then, just yesterday, the explosion in the chemical plant in Texas. Official reports are saying that from 5 to 15 people were killed with up to 200 injured. I fear that the death toll will turn out to be much higher. Homes around the plant were flattened. Another terrible tragedy. And finally (if only!) 27 people were killed by a suicide bomber in a café in Baghdad. Another tragedy? I’d like to think that we think so.
Everyone would agree that the bombings in Boston were a completely unjustified, cowardly, criminal act. No “cause” could justify such an act. I can’t help thinking, however, that placing such a dangerous chemical plant so close to a residential area was also, at some level, criminal. Or was it just incredibly stupid? Or sensible from an economic perspective? Could any sensible business plan justify such an act? Or were the homes and nursing homes built there afterwards? In which case, stupidity multiplied.
And then Baghdad. Is it right that what happens in the USA is somehow more important than what happens in Iraq? Is it because the people in the USA are more “like us” that the event in the USA grabs our attention, while that in Iraq goes largely unnoticed? Actually, I think it’s because such incidents happen so rarely in the USA and other western countries that they affect us so much more. In Iraq and other parts of the Arab world, it’s just business as usual.
Let’s think about this for a moment. We are more affected by tragic, but rare, incidents in the USA and other western nations, than by tragic, but frequent, incidents in other nations. We have become used to such events in those countries; and it is only when it occurs somewhere else, and somewhere closer to us in cultural terms, that it really affects us. The people in the United States (and elsewhere) can be grateful that these tragic events are still rare enough to shock us, to make the headlines, and to dominate the news. In other countries of the world, this is just another day.
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