Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Quote: Joseph Stalin (1878-1953)

"A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic."

The above quotation came to mind yesterday morning when I was listening to John Stanley on 2UE as I drove to work. Stanley commented that whilst watching the 5.00pm news on TV the afternoon before, there had been a story about a cyclist killed at Silverwater. The visual accompanying the story, Stanley said, showed the cyclist's body half covered with a sheet, an image he found disturbing and unsettling, much more than any of the footage he had seen of the Haiti earthquake disaster.

Maybe it's because a death in our own backyard is more immediate; maybe we can relate to it more than the poverty of Haiti; perhaps there is truth in the old saying (from when Lady Diana was alive) that in the scale of newsworthiness, the death of 100,000 in Asia or India equaled the death of 5 in Australia equaled a picture of Diana crying; or perhaps we have been hardened and made cynical by the blatant emotional blackmail of pictures of kids with big eyes and swollen bellies staring into the camera lens so as to look us in the eye. Have we become hardened to watching disasters befall the lower socio-economic groups in the world - the tsunami, Haiti, Hurricane Katrina - or has it always been so? Thoughts?

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