Saturday, 15 December 2012

Rachel weeping

The events at the Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, are tragic, and mean unimaginable loss for the families involved, and our news media is full of the story. Our emotions and feelings of compassion are stirred by this futile and evil act of one young man.

Barely 24 hours before, on Thursday, 7 children and several mothers were killed in another school, but this one received only passing mention in the media. This school was in Damascus where a car bomb exploded.

It is right to feel outrage and sorrow over the deaths in the small New England town, but we need to be aware that we are often partisan in our compassion.

Some 21,000 children die every day around the world.

This is equivalent to:

• 1 child dying every 4 seconds • 14 children dying every minute • Just over 7 ½ million children dying every year

Or to put it another way, it is equivalent to:

• A 2004 Asian Tsunami occurring every 11 days • A 2010 Haiti earthquake occurring every 10 days

The silent killers of these children are poverty, hunger, easily preventable diseases and illnesses, and other related causes. Despite the scale of this ongoing catastrophe, it rarely manages to achieve, much less sustain, prime-time, headline coverage, or arouse our feelings of empathy and sorrow.

Feel compassion for the familes devastated in Newtown, but feel it for the families of all young lives lost across our world, and in your desire never to see such events happen again, decide to make your response active not merely passive.

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