a few days ago, in frustration and puzzlement, one of my colleagues--a senior cambodian human rights defender--wondered whether in our part of the world (as well as other developing nations) human life was valued less than perhaps in europe or america. how else could we explain the great number of lives lost everyday, with such little attention and uproar? he noted that if we do not value the lives of our fellow countrymen, how can we expect others to?
the conversation inevitably moved to the new york world trade centre attacks and i voiced my disquiet at the local tv station's adverts for a two-hour documentary on the topic. five years after the tragedy, the hype has not died down. but what of the thousands of other world tragedies that have continued in those five years? why are their stories not portrayed as vividly, or at all?
i am aware that part of the answer must necessarily lie in the politics of media, power and capital. i am more interested however, in the responsibility shouldered by civil society, by ordinary individuals. earlier last week, a fellow indian, on learning that my family comes from the state of gujarat, asked me, 'what are you doing in response to the government of narendra modi, to the 2002 pogrom?' he did not ask me for an opinion or comments, he was interested in concrete actions. implicit in his question was my responsibility to be doing something.
one of my friends has this quote on his blog: you must be the change you wish to see in the world
(perhaps i can begin working towards this change by participating in class discussions this time around.. !)