I should stop reading the newspapers. They do nothing but depress me. Today for example, there were two articles in the Hindu (Delhi edition) that saddened me.
Firstly, there was an article titled “Birds deserting Keoladeo Park”. It is good if the dying wetlands are getting notice and concern. But what is it that concern people? According to the article, participants in a workshop expressed concern ‘over the threat of its delisting from the World Heritage Sites looming large’. So it is not the loss of biodiversity, not the thought of birds flying to a remembered home and finding nothing that worries us. It is the loss of status, the threat of being delisted. It sounds clichéd when I say that the entire biosphere is our heritage, but it is true, no?
But it gets worse. On page 3, I came across this sentence: ‘To prevent the frequent disruptions in the services of the Metro Railway caused by passengers committing suicides, all stations..’
The article was about the increasing number of suicides in the Kolkata Metro system. 14 suicide attempts in 2009, with 9 deaths. It is good that Kolkata Metro is trying to prevent this by watching for loiterers and posting details of helplines. But the motivating issue? Frequent disruptions in service.
I know well that the words we say and write are not the ones we feel and think. Language is sadly inefficient at the best of times. When it comes to reporting what others have said, with the additional limits of a word count and a deadline, and the pressure to attract fickle readers, it is easy to misrepresent what a person says.
But I have far too often driven past the site of an accident and cribbed at the delay. I have far too often been too busy with my own life to notice that all is not well with my friends.
Which makes me think that Hobbes was right. It IS a personal compliment to not be human.