Following the despicable slaying of nearly 150 Kenyans overnight by Al Shabaab militants, Editor PB reflects on the things that matter…or at least that he feels should.
Last night the footy (ie the real footy, namely AFL not that namby pamby round ball game) finally started, with the Tiges victorious over the Blues.
In my footy-fanatic way, I had intended writing our Friday sports feature piece about the opener of the AFL season and touching on the whole ASADA-Essendon thing that seems to be over, yet not over, but this just became yet another first world problem, put into perspective by what I read as I fired up my iPad this morning to scan the news.
For those not across what happened overnight, during the early hours of the Kenyan morning while students were involved in their respective prayer services, four Al Shabaab gunmen stormed Garissa University College in northern Kenya, taking hostages, who they either wounded or killed during a protracted siege.
Reports are coming through that 147 people are dead. Some shot. Some beheaded. Who know what other violence or torture occurred, but we will soon find out.
Christians. Muslims. Others.
Just people like you or me, when you strip back the religious mantles, living their lives, or, in the case of the slain students, doing something to better their lives.
But to Al Shabaab, the Somali-based Islamic terrorist group linked to al-Qaeda (also responsible for the 2013 multi-day siege in a mall in Nairobi), those 147 were clearly nothing more than a disposable means to an horrific end.
I know that this kind of news feels almost mundane as it rolls through our news feeds on a regular basis, coming up against horrific home-grown tales of stabbings, domestic violence, crimes of passion, gangland murders…the list could go on.
And I’ve heard from people I know and love that “I just don’t read or watch the news any more – it’s too depressing”.
But seriously people, we can’t afford to turn off. It’s important to stay connected, even to such horrors, and to have a response to them. Part of the reason they’re happening is because we have become so disconnected — because the more horrific stories seem to come from so far away so we feel we can hold them at arm’s length and assume “It won’t happen to us”.
It can, has and will again if we stop caring.
So today, as you niggle your partner about your favourite coffee place not being open on a public holiday, or nurse a holiday-eve hangover, or bemoan your side being beaten in some sport last night, or whatever other #FWP there is to whinge about, take a moment to remember it’s small stuff.
Remember that someone is mourning the loss of their much-loved child, brother, mother, partner.
Remember that by staying engaged with a seemingly-increasingly dark world, that we might have in us the solutions to help make it a little lighter.
And remember that by not burying our heads in the sometimes smallness of our own lives and instead reaching out to those who need our help, we might all play a part, albeit unwittingly, in saving a life…or many lives.