Monday, February 20, 2006

Blessed perspective?

Like most people I can sit and watch the news, interested, but a little detached. But every so often a story comes along that just hits you like a sledgehammer, shattering that emotional buffer-zone and making you watched, slack-jawed for the length of the report.

What moved me was the story of a little girl, three years old, being raised in a Russian orphanage. Her mother was HIV positive when she gave birth, and so passed it onto her child. Such is the stigma attached to those with HIV and AIDS in Russian society that that mothers with HIV frequently abandon their children.

This girl was being raised by nurses in a hospital ward, alone. She's never played with any other children. She'd only ever been outside the hospital once. She's got nowhere else to go.

And there are thousands like her in the system.

It's easy to shrug and remark that it's a cruel, unforgiving world. Ah, yes, lean back in your comfy chair and say that with comfortable detachment. We're the lucky ones with the benefit of comfortable, stable surroundings who can remark with blessed perspective on the world. I have the opportunity for instance to while away my time like this uploading my random thoughts and opinions onto the internet. And I can walk outside any time I want.

I can't stop thinking about her.

Seems however that there is a little justice in the world today. David Irving, famous 'historian' and more infamous holocaust-denier was jailed today in a Viennese court for that very thing. Holocaust-denial in Austria remains a crime. Interesting points have been raised about how this compares with the 'cartoon' furore of the past few weeks and quite what the limits on free speech should be. But tell me this, upon hearing that news, do you not feel a touch of schadenfreude?

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