In today’s world of throwaway goods, when it’s often cheaper and less hassle to replace items rather than repair them, one has to wonder if that also goes for human lives. Is it easier to turn our faces away from the lives that are deemed to be worth so much less than our own, to pretend it’s not happening because it doesn’t affect you or me? Are we so desensitised to the atrocities across the world that it’s all become just another news item that we can switch over channels and ignore? Don’t turn away: the media wants to drip-feed us more of the same.
I sat in a theatre recently and watched a play entitled The Last Train to Auschwitz. The play, written by Jo Mac, was performed in a small theatre in Liverpool and was well attended by smartly dressed men and women. Quite busy for a Saturday night, I thought, and I wondered how many of the audience would then continue on into town for a drink and a dance. I also queried, in my head, how many of those same people had walked past the homeless man sitting outside Tesco, a couple of doors away from the theatre, and had acknowledged his presence with a kind word, a donation of money or food? Or had they, like so many others, passed him by, either not seeing him or trying not to look at him for fear that they might have to accept that even in this day and age we have people living on the streets?
I’m not ashamed to say that I cried while watching the play. Millions of lives lost in the death camps, people murdered for being born Jewish or Romany. People too weak to work: the elderly, the sick, the disabled, the mentally ill, the very young. Husbands, fathers, sons and brothers shot and killed on the spot. Women and children, who were beaten, raped and experimented on before being sent to their deaths in the gas “showers”. These were somebody’s mother’s and sisters and daughters, and yet people turned away and pretended it wasn’t happening. Arbeit macht frei, they said, and everyone promised it would never be allowed to happen again.
My tears that night were not just for those lost in Germany but for the lives that even today are being thrown away like discarded rubbish. Hundreds have been killed in Burma, hacked to pieces or burnt alive. Children’s bodies washed up on a Turkish beach, whole families drowning in the sea while trying to escape atrocities that we are lucky enough to not have to face here in the United Kingdom. Families in Palestine who are living under an occupied forces regime with limited access to water and electricity and always the threat of life being ended by a bullet or a bomb, regardless of age or class.
Even here in the United Kingdom life has become a throw away commodity. Every week more stories emerge of people dying after having draconian sanctions placed on them by the DWP so that they’re faced with the grim reality of having to pay for life-saving medication or starve to death. So in one of the richest countries in the world people are essentially committing suicide because they can’t see a way out of the poverty and debt they find themselves in. Working families having to resort to using foodbanks to feed their children because the wage they earn is only enough to cover essential bills is now commonplace.
READ THE WEBSTER ARTICLE : ' UNIVERSALLY DISCREDITED ' BY CLICKING THIS LINK
No more saving for those rainy days; such days are long gone. We’ve had cuts to services meaning that those with disabilities or mental ill-health are unable to access much needed therapy. People are forced to stay in abusive relationships as they can’t afford to move out, and the refuges are being closed down or are oversubscribed. People, both young and old, are resorting to begging on the streets, facing everything we associate with this appalling way of life, such as hypothermia or drug overdoses. Meanwhile a tower block in London burns due to a few aesthetically pleasing panels added so that wealthier neighbours don’t need to view an eyesore from their cosy gardens and, some in the media are only interested in presenting the idea that there may have been illegal immigrants in there, rather than focus on the political decisions that led to the loss of so many lives.
READ KENNETH WALKER'S ARTICLE : 'A TIME FOR HEROES' BY CLICKING THIS LINK
All of this in 2017 and we still have people who refuse to see this happening or ignore it because it’s not happening to them. How has society come to this point, or has it always been this way with people being more concerned about being okay themselves and stuff the rest of society? When did we lose our empathy and is it any wonder when we are constantly reminded via the mainstream media about looking after number one. Every generation bemoans the current one and talks about how life was better in their day, but we live in an age of post-Thatcherism and post-Blairism (although it’s possible that the latter is exactly the same as the former), and if society is just a memory and we’re all merely individuals looking out for our own self-interest, then yes, that would lead to the sort of situation we’re now in, where rampant individualism is far more important than the collective action, because to even believe in the common good is old-fashioned socialist nonsense, apparently.
Nobody gets to choose the life they are born into; the privileged children recently bungled off to Eton have no say over that, just as the children from a council estate attending their privately run (but publicly funded) ‘state school’ have no say either; but who decides that one life is worth more than another? The body of a white, British child being washed up on a beach would cause a tidal wave of outrage, and yet for a Syrian child it was just a few ripples in a pond. American families being hacked to death would bring international anger and a promise to keep fighting against the system until justice has been done, and yet for Muslims being massacred in Burma they merit a couple of lines in a newspaper next to an article on the new dress bought by this week’s most loved superstar. People who dare to speak out about the situation in Palestine are accused of being anti–Semitic and against the Jewish people, and yet that night in the theatre my tears were for all of those people, regardless of race or culture or ranking in the world.
My tears were also for people who, given the right opportunities and chances, could live happy, meaningful, productive lives. My tears were for the human race.
Lisa Dempster for Political Provocateur