52% intelligent. 9% modest. More monkey than bear.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

not again. not today. not today.

There's a 2 minute silence at noon today to remember the victims of last week's bombings in London. The news is full of how this will be observed across the world: in Paris, in Bali, at the Open Golf Championship in St Andrews....

Now, I don't mean to be disrespectful to anybody, but it's all so arbitrary, isn't it?

Who decides how long the silence should be? It always used to be a minute: 60 seconds of quiet reflection. Now it seems to be variable, and we went up as far as 3 minutes of silence for the victims of the Asian Tsunami. Does the length of the silence we accord it provide a scale for how awful we judge the tragedy? The Tsunami was a 3 minuter. London is a 2 minuter.

At Glastonbury and during Live8, the big screens drove home the message that every 3 seconds a child dies of poverty. They made the point that if people were dying in those kind of numbers in Britain, then the world would sit up and take notice, and something would be done about it. Somehow because the people affected were dying in Africa and in other corners of the Third World, the rest of the world is able to shrug its collective shoulders and carry on.

Let me stress before I say this, lest I am misunderstood, that I have been appalled by the bombings in London, and my thoughts are with the victims and their families.... I am not trying to deflect attention from this atrocity or to lessen its impact....but is it not true that there are suicide bombings in other parts of the world every day? Explosions take place in places like Iraq and Israel every single day of the year, and they are such common occurences that they have become little more than footnotes on the evening news. It happens to London and the whole world sits up and takes notice.

If we held 2 minutes of silence for the victims of each of these attacks, for every human disaster, then the world would be a hell of a lot quieter.

I will fall silent at noon, and I will contemplate the victims of the London bombings and their families, but I will also be thinking about the victims of all the world's other tragedies too.


  • At 8:57 am, Blogger izchan said…

    Bo Beep pointed me this way, so here I am.

    I agree with you on all levels.

    But lets get real though, if London gets bomb every other day, I think the reaction by the world would most probably be "Again?". They will most probably be no more 2 minutes silence.

    Of course IF london gets bomb every other day, the world would have gone to war. So that too is something that needs to be taken into consideration.

    I am unsure as to what these fanatics hope to achieve as the more bombs they throw, the worst it is to their cause. The support of the world will become non-existent and well ... War will ensue.

    I really wished that I would never lived in the time of another world war. It would be sad indeed.

  • At 10:57 am, Blogger John said…

    I'm going mental cos I can't remember where I read it and find you a link, but someone, somewhere on the internet, wrote a very interesting piece about the history of the period of silence and (more or less) the same thing you mentioned above about the tsunami being a three minuter but London only being a two minuter.

    Just for the record, one bit I do remember, the first 'official' silence-as-a-mark-of-respect, was a two minuter called by George V on 11th November 1919 to be observed across the Empire.

    Darth Vader ruined it... by breathing.

  • At 11:07 am, Blogger adem said…

    I work in an office by myself and so will not be talking to anyone when time for silence comes. Does this count?
    Of course I won't do any work at that time and will choose to reflect upon life....same as every other day then.

  • At 11:38 am, Blogger Betty said…

    Actually, Ken Livingstone is advising people to stand outside their homes or offices during the two minute silence, although I don't know what this will achieve if you're the only person down your street who's not at work.

  • At 11:51 am, Blogger B1RDIE Num Num said…

    I also think the media is going loopy with this.

    My view - contemplate on life, for more than 2 minutes, its worth it.

    Also - whats the deal with this stoic londoners malarky. We're back at work coz we HAVE to, otherwise we're fired. Offer us choices, and we'll see:
    1) brave the fear and return to work, stand up to the terrorists in our midst.
    2) let us set up a work from home facility for you, so you dont have to fear the suicide bombers on commute. we'll also not fire you for taking this option.

    What do you think people would choose in London?

  • At 2:06 pm, Blogger Lord Bargain said…

    i think this notion of minute's silences, as I have said before, is getting completely out of control.

    Now, don't get me wrong, these are all Bad Things but I do find our response to them quite odd.

    There was a period last year when I was going to football matches that we had a minutes silence at least before pretty much every game. The most striking one I remember was that Manchester United had a minutes silence for Ken Bigley, the British hostage murdered in Iraq. This is Ken Bigley, a born and bred Liverpudlian (i.e. from the city most despised by your average Mancunian).

    And yet we didnt have a minutes silence (at a football match) in memory of Brian Clough, one of the most charismatic and talented men ever to grace British football.

    i just don't get it. Surely it is diminishing the value of the silence the more of these things there are? It means nothing if there is one every week, surely?

  • At 3:11 pm, Blogger Ben said…

    Blake Morrison wrote a very good piece about silences in the Guardian in the wake of the Asian tsunami disaster - that may be the piece John is referring to. Unfortunately I can't seem to locate it in the Guardian's archives. Recommended if you can track it down, though.

  • At 3:40 pm, Blogger Damo said…

    AAAAAAAARRRRRGGGH! You heartless, heartless people.

    Just kidding. I don't get it either.

  • At 4:07 pm, Blogger Mark said…

    Ken Bigley was an opportunistic cunt who'd gone there to make a TON of money and fuck off back to buy a huge house and retire.

    He got no silence from me, but laughter.

  • At 5:25 pm, Blogger spinsterwitch said…

    Have you ever watched the news coverage of a moment of silence...there's always at least one point in which a reporter breaks in to comment on how silent everything has fallen.


  • At 5:32 pm, Blogger the urban fox said…

    I have yet to find murder amusing, and find it sad that a working class man was prepared to risk his life in such dangerous circumstances in order to be able to leave the job shortly afterwards. Opportunistic, undoubtedly, but I wouldn't have done the job for £100,000 a day, let alone a year. The fact that he saw the risk as worth taking says a lot.

    Swiss, I have linked this post, as we seem to have thought alike on this matter.

  • At 5:49 pm, Blogger Mark said…

    Perhaps I should rephrase my post. Thought it would be controversial. But I have little sympathy with someone who works in a war zone willingly. His accusations that Tony Blair didn't care may have been accurate, but they were also wrong. If Tony Blair wanted to show them that all they had to do to get their way was kidnap a few people all he had to do was negotiate.

    Profiting from murder, whomever does so, is wrong. Halliburton should be flogged in public.

  • At 6:05 pm, Blogger the urban fox said…

    Still think that the kind of no-risk profit multinational corporations make from war isn't quite the same thing as one vulnerable man trying in his own selfish, human way to scrape together a comfortable retirement. But I see your point.

    We agree that shareholders and directors of arms manufacturers, Halliburton etc are the very worst examples of humanity.

  • At 7:23 pm, Blogger SwissToni said…

    A friend working in London emailed me today to tell me how they had all filed out of their office and stood near the Tate Modern at noon, and how the thousands of people lining up along the Thames was really quite moving.

    In my office the silence was pretty good, but one clown stayed on the phone throughout - either oblivious or uncaring of the fact that we had all fallen silent. Either way - idiot.


  • At 9:33 pm, Blogger Mark said…

    time for a happy slap i think?

  • At 10:34 am, Blogger John said…

    Ben - Blake Morrison article is here and is exactly the one I was thinking of - thanks.

  • At 4:05 pm, Blogger LavaLady said…

    Really, really well put.


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