When a person becomes a statistic

I woke up today morning, picked up the newspaper and read the headline “Yet another Andhraite shot in US” or something like that. I browsed through the other headlines before reading the report itself. The face staring back at me was that of a former colleague – a person who worked for my company for over  an year.

After the initial shock, I turn to Times of India’s website for more details. There is a video on the page. Clicking it plays an advertisement before the actual content. I scroll down to the bottom of the page for other linked reports. There is a link saying “Do you like this story?”

Story. Yes. Story. That is what it is to us. That is the state of the world we live in and the extent to which we are de-sensitized. Everyday we see reports of crimes – murders, rapes, whatnot. We read them, sigh, and move on. These reports stay in our minds for not more than the few seconds it takes to read them. Not even enough time to think: “It won’t happen to me or to someone I know”. And then one day it does. And it is only then that the mind pauses to think.

After all the progress we have made over the centuries – and I don’t mean to belittle it, we have indeed made progress – a human life still does not mean to us what it should. A human life is sacred. It is the very source of the concept. And yet the loss of a human life is just a statistic, an abstract event that fails to move us unless the event hits home. As the headline goes “Yet another…”.

We have come a long way from the insane violence that used to be commonplace. But we still have a long way to go.

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3 Responses

  1. As they say (or at least as I heard it being said, in India, while I myself was growing up, some couple of decades before either of you were even born): happiness, when shared, increases in life; and sadness, when shared, reduces. … A nature of life, or, rather, of a life true to its own nature, I suppose…

    Since one can do little else in the matter, let me share this moment with you.

    And, my prayers, for the departed soul. May his soul find (Marathi/Sanskrit) “sadgati.”

    Ajit
    [E&OE]

  2. That’s true. Thanks for the comment.

    The sadness is mostly gone now but it has been replaced by an anger whenever I happen to think of it. I am unable to get rid of the anger. Perhaps that is as it should be.

  3. I empathize with you, Just the other day I was driving to work and saw a man lay still in the middle of the road in a major junction and not one person stopped to check what had happened, I saw a Police Man standing 10 feet from the man, stopped my car told him about the guy and went on, I still haven’t gotten over the anger (frustration if you may). I keep asking myself where we are headed and what we are running after!

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