Thursday, July 25, 2013
A Star is Born.
By Jay Stringer
On Monday, July 22nd, a baby was born in the UK.
An emotional, tired and hungry bundle of youth.
Born into a world full of possibilities and endless adventures, a world of riches and joy and wonder.
Unfortunately, this child was born into poverty. It will live in this poverty. Chances are high that it won't receive a full education, that it will be statistically more likely to die in poverty and to be more open to disease than 1333 other children born in that country on Monday.
That's just one story.
You can repeat it word-for-word 666 times before you can take away the mention of poverty.
You need repeat the story over 2000 times before you can narrow it down to one particular happy, healthy child who will never have to want for anything.
These are the stories we do and don't tell. These are the stories we choose and ignore.
1 in 3 children born in the UK right now is being born into poverty. Some amongst us might choose to look at the definition of modern "poverty" and score points by pointing out that many of those children are actually being born into perfectly livable financial conditions. But that doesn't matter. When the words "children" and "poverty" are in the same sentence anyone who wants to score points over semantics can take a running jump.
I don't have the stats to tell the even bigger picture. I don't have a figure for how many children were born on the planet on that day. I feel safe in assuming if we were to add those births onto the scale, the needle will only swing in one direction. We would be talking about children born with HIV, children born with no medical help, children born simply to die before they can even walk. Children who will never see clean water, or who will contract diseases for which there already exist cures, locked in medicine cabinets thousands of miles away. Children who will never know their parents. Children who will never learn to read or write, never hear music, never hear kind words.
Nine million children die every year before they reach the age of five. That's over twenty four thousand a day. In the time it's taken you to get this far into my post, over 17 children have died in confusion, fear or pain. That's regardless of which god or gods their parents have prayed to, of how good or bad they've been, or of what potential the child had for greatness.
It's pretty clear that we don't have to tell these stories if we don't want to. The media on both sides of the Atlantic seems to have already made that choice. There are shiny, happy and interesting people we can tell stories about, and some of them have bronzed bodies that look kinda nice on a TV screen or the front page of a newspaper. There are also serial killers and mentally unwell people that we can talk about, faces and names that we can manipulate and twist and make famous. There are politicians, movie stars, rock stars, bankers and royalty.
Who wants to read about all the people on the other side of the tracks? Who wants to write about them? Who wants to think about them?
Thinking about them might lead to us trying to, I don't know, do something.
I'm happy for that particular young couple, and their newborn son. I'm even more happy because that son has parents who will be able to give him everything, to provide and protect and give him every opportunity.
But how to we manage to focus so much energy on seeing the one and not the six hundred and sixty seven?