Sunday 25 February 2018

Boston bombs need to be put in perspective

'Just when you think it's safe to go back in the water' – the famous tag-line from the 'Jaws' films sprung to mind last week when the Boston Marathon bombing hit the news.

The world was a calm enough place; we were so focussed on the financial crisis that everything else has been put out of our minds. We think we're safe, we think that terrorism has finally been eradicated; we think that it's ok to go back to a somewhat normal existence.

And then disaster strikes again, the feeling of dread and anxiety returns, and the world isn't such a nice place after all. For those living in America, the echoes of 9-11 are frightening.

The bombing in Boston remind us that it would be very naïve to think that it was ever safe 'to go back in the water'. Just because the Boston marathon bombing is the most serious act of terror on American soil since the events of 9-11, doesn't mean that it's something that hasn't happened in the past 12 years elsewhere.

The fact is that worse events that the marathon bombing happen every day elsewhere in the world. If you lived in Baghdad or Damascus then the news from Boston last week wouldn't have registered as a major event at all. Because last week there was a news report of a string of attacks and car bombings which killed at least 32 people across Iraq as the country prepared to hold local elections.

And then there is Syria. We don't even notice the news reports (because they are few and far between, and when they do make the news they are relegated to page 15 or 20 of the 'other news' sections), but there were at least 80 people killed in a series of car bombings in February, and last week there were another 15 killed in a singular incident in Damascus.

This isn't to make light of the three people that were killed in Boston last week, but it's no harm to have some perspective either. The bombings in Boston have appalled us, and understandably so, it is horrific. But one of the reason it appals us so much is because this sort of thing is very rare in our part of the world.

So why is it that we receive up to the minute reports on the developments of the investigations into the Boston bombings, and at the same time we only receive such scant reports on these other terror attacks?

Why is it that an American life is so much more important to us than the life of someone in Syria, where the senseless loss of life has been ongoing since March 2011, over two years ago? Or any other part of the world for that matter?

I don't know the full answer to that question, but I do know that its premise is true. Maybe the media make us believe that American lives are as important to us as the lives of our own family members and friends, while those in 'far-distant lands' like Syria don't really matter so much. We pray for peace in the world every day.

We sincerely do wish for an end to violence and war once and for all, so that we can all live on this planet together peacefully. And we certainly empathise with those affected by these awful events. But ultimately, while we pray and wish and empathise, we're happy to think its all ok, because our part of the world is secure and safe.

We want to believe it's safe to go back in the water. Let's extend our condolences to those who lost loved ones in Boston, and keep them in our prayers. But let's remember also the victims of any and all tragic events across the globe that they too may have the strength to deal with these losses in their lives.

Gorey Guardian

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