In the space of a couple of days, we saw a rightwing Christian Fundamentalist terrorist kill over 90 people in Norway, and Amy Winehouse die of most likely a drug overdose.
The reaction of some to these two events has been interesting. On Facebook for instance, someone recently commented:
There are a lot of people in this world that have “DEMONS” that DON’T stick a needle in their arm. What happened in Norway was a tragedy, what happened to Amy was a CHOICE. PLAIN AND SIMPLE.
There’s a certain logic in the argument, but only if we start down the track of evaluating the “value” of each human life and ranking some more than others. It also leads down the path of to a conclusion such as:
There’s always someone in the world worse off than you, so if you complain, you’re being a sensitive jerk.
Keep quiet. Don’t tell anyone you’re upset or you’re in pain, because there’s always someone worse off, and therefore you have no right to complain.
That’s the sort of thinking that leads to suicide. Or ‘at best’, deep depression where people feel they’ve got no-one to turn to because they shouldn’t be “bothering” others with their situation.
In the grand scheme of things, the victims of the Norway massacre were innocents. Blown up, killed by debris or shot by the terrorist, they did nothing “wrong” other than simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Amy? She had her addictions, which she’d failed to deal with. But here’s the honest truth – having wads of money doesn’t guarantee you an escape plan from your demons. Further, if we want to be brutally honest, the reckless and ruinous way that paparazzi pursue celebrities at their lowest, looking for those salacious photos of someone in a weak moment just perpetuates a vicious cycle.
Have we already forgotten what happened with News of the World?
Honestly, let’s not judge someone who fell, just because the had money or fell partly as a result of their own mistakes.
And let’s not think that we have to establish a “grief hierarchy”. Just because a tragedy happens in one place doesn’t mean we have to ignore anything else that happens. If we do, we ignore those who may be quietly suffering, who are hoping that just one person will reach out to them and ask, “Hey mate, are you OK? Do you need to talk?”