Don’t read the comments

 
BY AARON STREATFEILD

Don’t, seriously. Whoop! You did, didn’t you? You just couldn’t help yourself.

Yet again we witness, in the aftermath of a horrific event, the shockwave of social media opinion.

The time has come and gone.  Andrew Chan and Muyuran Sukumaran have met their long-awaited fate, at the hands of the Indonesian Government.

Their names became fixtures in our media, nation-wide.  In the wake of their execution, social media is rife with heated discussions surrounding their demise.  It doesn’t take a Newspoll survey to convey the divide in public opinion.

The pair’s infamy has elevated them to the status of untouchables, distanced from the rest of us, like Hollywood celebrities.  Their privacy, their humanity – public property.  A struggle for compassion towards their plight.  We have become desensitised by our own unrelenting press, and we are more than happy to put in our own two cents.

It is this desensitisation that plagues every corner of social media, every comment section of a major media outlet.  “Just shoot them, I’m sick of hearing about them.” “Should have been done nine years ago.” “They aren’t heroes, they are criminals.”

Our age of information overload has left us thick skinned and remorseless.  We have disconnected ourselves from compassion and from the gravity of death itself.

But where do we go from here? What lesson can we take from this unnecessary dismissal of life?

These two men were sons, brothers, nephews, cousins – human beings.  They were criminals and like all human beings, they made mistakes.  No they are not heroes. Survivors maybe, but only out of instinct. They were human beings.

It is easy to write-off human life when we feel people have got what they deserved. When they are a number, a headline, a world away from our own.  We can justify death because they broke the rules.

It is harder to walk a mile in their shoes.

“You will achieve more in this world through acts of mercy than you will through acts of retribution” – Nelson Mandela
 

 

Candle photo on home page: Jalal Hameed Bhatti/CC/flickr

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