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Thursday, January 06, 2005  
Silence


The only thing I agree with Starsailor about is that "silence is easy". Three minutes of silence yesterday wasn't for people in South Asia whose homes, lives and families have been obliterated by nature; it was for the people in Britain and elsewhere in the Western world who stood still for the sake of feeling a little better about themselves. Silence helps NO ONE except the silent, and it only helps them feel less guilt about the fact that they are not dead. Remembering or thinking of the people who have died, 150,000 and counting (I dread the quarter of a million mark), does NOTHING for ANYBODY. Three minutes? Fuck off. Give three more pounds. Do something that's actually going to help people in Thailand and Malaysia and elsewhere rather than just making yourself feel better. I went for a walk at midday yesterday, meaning that I was silent for a few minutes, but I'm silent for many, many more minutes every day, and feel no need to be pious and demonstrative about it. Unless you know someone who has died in this tragedy then you are NOT grieving - you may be shocked, appalled, upset, but grief... well.

grief
n
1: intense sorrow caused by loss of a loved one (especially by death)

I refuse to believe that the people of this country are that afflicted by profound empathy that they are grieving for thousands of people they have never met. Not in the sense that I understand the word grief, anyway. Yet more Diana-isation, yet more commodification of anguish, yet another dick-measuring contest to see who is more upset, yet more public shows of pain instead of practical help. Get over yourselves. There's nothing wrong with a bit of British stiff-upper-lip, and it's infinitely preferable to this selfishly adolescent melancholy show-off contest.


PS. Kasabian sound like a very bad rip-off of Regular Fries, who themselves were not a great band. Kasabian's beats are generic cod-funky indie shite, their Beatles-indebted backwards fills are classicist-pleasing cynical wank, their tunes are shouty-shouty over-masculine bollocks. They're like Lo Fidelity Allstars with no talent, no fun, no sense of the ridiculous and a fear of the modern. They can FUCK OFF.

NJS

1/06/2005 09:55:00 am

8 Comments:

Blogger Ben - 2:57 pm

Well done on having the courage to go against the grain and say this. You've got a very valid point, of course. Saying nothing for three minutes is hardly going to improve the wellbeing of a disaster victim in need.

 
Blogger Ben - 4:28 pm

And your comments on Kasabian: fucking spot on.

 
Anonymous Anonymous - 5:01 pm

The faux-grief displayed at the time of "Diana's" funeral still angers me today.
However, when 150,000 people are wiped out and we are exposed to personalised stories of 'real' people who have been orphaned/made homeless etc, then empathising with them and feeling hurt for them is not such a leap.
Personally, I have cried for them. But not in a 'i'll show everyone how upset I am' way. It's because I've imagined being in the same position as them and it hurts and I know I hurt nowhere near as much as them.

 
Anonymous Anonymous - 12:18 am

Oxford Street during that 3 minutes was an awesome sight. Maybe in fucking Devon silence and stillness is no big deal but in the centre of a big city with a few million people going about their days as normal, getting them to stop and shut their fucking faces actually has a bit of meaning. It may not have done any good, it may have been pious, whatever other student union twaddle you want to come up with, but it moved me to see it. It was meant as a mark of respect, nothing else.

 
Blogger Nick - 9:05 am

I'm sure it was moving, and I'm glad you found it so. I hope you feel you got something from it. What pisses me off is that for a number of people that three minutes is probably it; they've shown that they care and now they can get on with doing whatever they do everyday as normal, until the next tragedy happens and they can be quiet for a minute or two minutes or fucking ten minutes then. My point that being quiet helps no one but those observing the silence stands. If there was a huge spike in donations or people volunteering time to aid organisations immedietely after the silence then maybe it's done some actual quantifiable good, but as a gesture I think it's almost entirely self-serving and tokenistic. And being condescending towards people from Devon only makes you look like a cunt and compounds stereotypes of Londoners.

 
Anonymous Anonymous - 12:48 pm

Couldn't agree more Nick.

30,000 died in an earthquake in India in 2001. Anyone hear about it, donate any money or have a silence? No because it didn't have dead Westerners or photogenic rescue stories.

 
Blogger Marcello - 8:08 am

When you work in a hospital there simply isn't the space or time to be silent for three seconds, let alone three minutes. And why three minutes? Is the loss of 150,000 tsunami victims more significant than the slaughter of 50 million people in two world wars?

Personally 25/08/01 was my 9/11, and that's the only source of my ongoing grief (and I speak as someone who, as representative of King's College Hospital, was actually in the Diana funeral procession. The thing I remember most was Earl Spencer looking daggers at Charles all the way down the Mall).

 
Blogger Wayne - 1:57 pm

The media stinks.

Every week in 2003, an average of 42,307 men, women and children die of HIV and AIDS, in Sub-Saharan Africa alone. Moreover, an average of 232,692 children were orphaned each week during 2003.

After 10 weeks of tsunami dead being found, I wonder which statisic will be still grabbing the headlines? I bet that the 423,070 Africans won't: it's all such a shame that people just see numbers. THESE ARE PEOPLE!

It makes me sick to my stomach.

(Calculations made from statistics found at http://www.avert.org/subaadults.htm)

 

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Nick Southall is Contributing Editor at Stylus Magazine and occasionally writes for various other places on and offline. You can contact him by emailing auspiciousfishNO@SPAMgmail.com


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