An Evil man once said:
“When one person dies, it's a tragedy, but when a million people die, it's a statistic.” ~Joseph Stalin
Sometimes I wonder, what is it about the humanization of an individual that makes them so relate-able. Suddenly everyone becomes empathetic, once we bring a humanized individual into the equation. I read The Martian Novel by Andy Weir last year to catch up with the (then) impending release of the movie. The intensive scientific research by Weir was more than impressive; the story line was no less in evoking certain thoughts.
The Martian by Andy Weir, The book's outline from Goodreads: Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars' surface, completely alone, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive — and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive.
Would NASA or the concerned authority in a similar condition be willing to bring back an astronaut at any cost? At first, I was quite skeptical about such efforts would be the reality of events for just one life. Certainly, one life is far less than many that can be improved by the same amount of efforts and funds put into saving one person. To my understanding, that should be the logical reaction to it. Especially if we consider so many starving children and suffering people in war zones across the globe. So what is it about Mark Watney that made the authorities so empathetic towards him? That they want him saved at what so ever cost.
Here is an idea; Watney is humanized, we see him as a person whereas a lot of individuals all over the world struggling their ways to flee from middle eastern crises are conceived by us as numbers/statistics. With no back stories for us to relate with the complexity of their day to day struggles.
Until, One three years old's, lifeless body reached ashore on a Turkish beach. Media Identified the three-year-old as Aylan Kurdi. Aylan's five-year-old brother and his mother met the similar fate. He was trying to flee the war-torn Syria, like thousands of others. It was only following Aylan's face down, death-kissed, body's arrival at the shore of Turkish beach that western media did an extensive coverage on refugee crisis.
For past five years, there has been a civil war in Syria. The war broke out with the protests of Arab spring in middle-eastern countries. Arab Spring: the protest and uprising that started in 2010 and spread across Arab countries. It was a Revolt to topple the Dictatorships and bring in Democracy in middle-eastern countries. There have been more than 210,000 (including civilians) Casualties (from stats of May 2015) and it is still ongoing. So many deaths went by as statistics. So, Was that evil man right?
What prompted media to give coverage of the horrific crisis in the Arab/Syrian war, was not the Outrageous statistic. The incredibly high number of deaths did not incite the global awareness but and an individual did. One child lifeless... Aylan's father survived, but when offered help in the wake of front-page coverage of his boy's death, he refused help and said: "What was precious to him is now gone."
The international law offers asylum and rights to refugees but it is a shame that only a few countries are upholding the law. Denying UN's international law has another side to the debate such as the abhorrent new year eve's incidences in Germany. The irony is that these situations are not quite black and white but rather complex. However, the complexity should not jeopardize an innocent children's rights of well-deserved safety.
This incidence of individuality's perspective does leave a strong impression on the world. It is a kind of a representation of Stalin's quote. How curious it is that we are more sympathetic and caring when we break down the trauma to an individual level. As though our conscious is able to relate with individual suffering and cannot conceive a collective suffering that is measurably and collectively more than an individual's suffering. We find ourself more relatable to individuals, Perhaps because we are Individuals.
On the similar note, while I was reading Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl, I questioned, How could the rest of the world let it happen? What was the rest of the world doing back then?... I guess I have the answer to my past self's question after Aylan's incidence. The rest of world was doing exactly the same thing, back then, as (We) the Rest-Of-The-World is doing right now.