When we, the people, read the news in the morning or watch it all day long on various screens, we tend to be cold to the number of persons killed in mishaps. We gaze transiently at a headline like- ’32 killed as bus driven by 16 year old conductor plunges into river’. Then, though we feel low, we move on to the entertainment section.
Is it our fault, though, that we feign concern but are actually impervious to death? Every day brings up at least one gruesome story. And the mood is made more sullen by sundry other items from here and there that add to society’s daily burden of crime.
Human beings tend to be unruffled by tragedies which happen remotely or in other lands. They are more impacted by those that occur at close quarters. Yet, and this is but natural, each tragedy is soon forgotten along with yesterday’s newspaper. Only those who have to directly bear the brunt of the calamity actually feel the resultant pain.
The result is that the global milieu, particularly communities in developing countries become jaded by the talk of death and very little is done to control such incidents.
A 16 year old driving a bus is an indicator of lawlessness. An unqualified electrician doing a shoddy job of repairing a local power wrangle is another such sign. An untrained attendant administering an injection to a patient is yet another untenable ‘adjustment’.
Any or all of these can lead to death and destruction but our system allows, with impunity, such digressions from propriety. And we who are armchair critics and morning-walk analysts, look the other way.
Agreed that most of us cannot do much about such systemic flaws, and even those in position and power have to really exert themselves in order to rectify the ‘chalta hai’ malaise that afflicts almost all of us. But can we not resolve to create awareness amongst those more prone and susceptible to such nonsense that they should not permit it?
The passengers in the aforementioned ill-fated bus clearly knew that the young lad was underage but they were loath to stop him from playing with their lives. When we notice an ill connected, dangerously dangling, piece of electrical wiring, or a rag-tag-bobtail arrangement for looking after patients at a public hospital, should we be looking the other way?
Can we do something at least? In my view, various stakeholders could attempt the following: the government must be stricter and more rigid in preventing the flouting of laws, the media can be more insightful in studying the lacunae that create such dreadful situations, and the common man can refuse to take things lying down when he must raise his voice.
It is by persistent knocking at the door of collectively callous attitude that a dent can be made and perhaps some lives can be saved.
But what of organised crime and suicides, which also result in unnatural and avoidable deaths? Such transgressions against civilised living have never been missing from the world, but as Yuval Noah Harari notes in his admirable book, Homo Deus, wars have been virtually eliminated by mankind. Can we hope that crime might also be minimised in the years to come?
Unemployment is one major factor which is responsible both for crime and self- inflicted harm. Focussed economic development with more meaningful governmental efforts can increase the number of jobs and reduce both these abhorrent ills.
Each person in the world has a unique life and a special role to play in this magnum-opus that is the never ending global human drama. We cannot allow a mother or wife to grieve forever at the loss of a life which could have been saved.
Our soldiers and paramilitary personnel who die at the border are gallant icons of humanity who mock at death for their country. Every young lady who loses her husband to needless violence knows a level of pain which the rest of us cannot imagine.
It’s time to value more the lives of fellow citizens and ensure that we don’t lose human beings whom we should still rightfully have in our midst.