One of those days
Do you ever have one of those days when you feel a little overwhelmed by the images posted online from around the world of the horrors we humans inflict upon each other? If it isn’t Iraq, Palestine/Israel then its Syria or some other place God seems to have abandoned. Today as I sat to breakfast, the first image I saw online was of the charred remains of a Palestinian child. It was the first of many such images on my twitter timeline today. The picture of that child, someone’s beloved baby, sat rather incongruously among tweets about how Celtic would do in today’s friendly and moans about our latest signing. One can very easily suffer from compassion fatigue or become desensitised to such images if they are viewed often enough. One can often be left with a feeling of powerlessness as these horrors unfold a few hours flying time from home. It can also be quite depressing to see the depths we humans can sink to. You’d think we’d learned nothing from all those conflicts of the past.
Of course technology has allowed for the wide dissemination of images and information in a way and at a speed that would have seemed incredible just 20 years ago. That is of course a mixed blessing. On one hand we are better informed and more involved in debates about the big issues at home and abroad. On the other hand we can be continually exposed to images which are difficult to look at and we are occasionally forced to read the opinions of people with no obvious moral compass. Just as I was lamenting the state of the world today, one of my Twitter comrades reminded me to keep a bit of perspective on things. Most people are decent and the world has always had its troubles. We simply have more ways to view them today. There are still so many charitable, decent and kind people out there and we should never forget that. There are those my mum used to call the ‘ordinary angels’ of our communities who help the elderly, man the food banks, take time to talk to the lonely and much else beside. There are also those who literally put their lives on the line for others and inspire so many of us.
I wonder how many of you would recognise the names of Valeri Bezpalov, Alexi Ananenko and Boris Baranov? In 1987 there was a disastrous explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in what was the Soviet Union. Ten days after the initial explosions another potential disaster in the making was uncovered among the smouldering debris of the Chernobyl nuclear plant. Water that was used to try and fight the flames unsuccessfully had become contaminated and then pooled beneath the reactor core. The reactor had had substances such as clay, sand, and boron dropped onto it by helicopters in an attempt to smother the flames. The resulting mixture was like lava and was slowly burning through the floor. Had it reached the water, the resulting fallout could have turned most of Europe into a nuclear wasteland caused by a mass steam explosion. The only way to stop this occurring was to open a valve and release the water. Doing so required someone to dive beneath the lethal radioactive sludge and open the valves. To do so would mean certain death from radiation poisoning but those three men volunteered and averted a localized disaster becoming a catastrophe for all of Europe. If ever the word ‘Hero’ was appropriate then it was for those brave men.
Similarly, when my oldest was choosing his Confirmation Saint he surprised me by opting for Maximillian Kolbe. Kolbe was a Catholic Priest who took another man’s place in a cell at Auschwitz knowing he was going to certain death. Such people remind us that the world can’t be such a bad place when it can produce such people. The ‘ordinary Angels,’ whom we all know in our families and wider lives and the people who are prepared for the ultimate sacrifice remind us that goodness isn’t finished just yet.
So I guess the point of this rather odd article is to remember that new technology allows us access to things which may get us down at times but it also has the power to cheer us and at times inspire us. This old world has always had its troubles and I suspect it always will. We should of course, try to be the change we want to see in society. Little things can make a big difference to some people. I recall the Priest in Church say one day, ‘Remember when you shake hands with the person next to you today that it may be the only human contact they feel this week.’ So if sometimes life gets us down, then we should try to remember that there are always friends, music, laughter and of course Celtic to lift our spirits.
Have a good week and don’t worry, I’ll get back to writing about Celtic soon. It’s just been one of those days. J