This bloke is going to get a lot of flak for saying this – from some sections of society, he will receive more than flak, he will be vilified.

The thing is, I think he is right.

People from our part of the world saw this sort of thing at first hand with the murder of Sarah Payne a few years ago. Her body was found on part of the Brinsbury Agricultural College, near to the A29 in West Sussex. People were, quite rightly, shocked and outraged by the murder of the girl. But I think I was even more outraged by the senseless waste of time and money when literally thousands of people descended on the site to leave flowers and gifts. The police had to set up traffic lights to control the traffic and stationed officers there around the clock to police the event. The College had to set aside a field for car parking because there were so many cars there. The County Council had to clean up the flowers and toys and remove them for disposal. Somebody (I’m not sure who – probably the College) paid for some Portaloos to be placed there and serviced. And you couldn’t get flowers from any of the local florists – they were doing a roaring trade.
It was utterly, utterly ridiculous. And to criticise it in any way was seen as heartless. An old school friend of mine went there with his wife and children to lay flowers. When I suggested to him that he would have been better to have given the money to a charity such as the NSPCC or ChildLine, he essentially told me that I was being selfish. His justification was that a child’s life had been needlessly taken and that it was his duty to mark that.
I don’t see him leaving flowers every day at the children’s ward of the local cancer hospital. Or at the graves of HIV/AIDS babies in Africa. Or for the eight children around the world that die every minute from disease or malnutrition.

[WARNING – sweeping statement ahead!] In my view, the problem with people today is that they do not look at the wider world. They don’t look beyond the immediate. Consequently, people do not think about the wider implications of their own actions. Also, they do not look beyond the headlines at the things going on in the world that are not major news.
Generally, people do not think. At all. Thinking is an extremely attractive quality. It was and is one of the things I love most about Hels. Nearly all of my friends Think (it deserves capitalization) – a healthy dose of cynicism mixed with a little optimism and a dash of observation. An avoidance of the knee-jerk. A desire to avoid the headline grabbing sensationalism of much of the mainstream. An appreciation that nothing in this world is straight-forward, simple or easily resolved.

And definitely not the sort of people to suffer mourning sickness.

6 Replies to “Think”

  1. Maybe there is a void in peoples lives, they want to share/show how much they care. But, I don’t think that over emoting to such to atrocities as Diana, Soham etc. is the way forward. It is do-gooding without actually doing anything.

    I think people need to consider their actions more carefully and their motives.

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  3. Absoloutely. I have just remembered when Princess Diana died, I was 8. I bowed my head, bought the tribute newspapers and muttered ‘Oh my god, she’s dead’. Then I proceeded to go into a state of mourning. About two years later I realised, why the fuck did I do that? I hadn’t even heard of Diana until then.

  4. The media seems to be able to generate self-fulfilling prophecies — almost dictating to people what their reaction to an event should be. The day Princess Diana died, the TV cameras were outside one of the palaces in London (I forget which one) showing a dozen or so people leaving bunches of flowers. The next day, after being inspired by the news reports, many thousands more turned up with flowers.

    It’s my guess that people feel frustrated by inactivity. They feel they need to *do* something in response to the emotions they feel. In the past, people would have flocked to church (as millions of Americans did after September 11th 2001). But in an increasingly-secular modern Britain, there seems no equivalent outlet for people to channel their grief/sadness — other than to pour over news reports and media tributes.

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