Missing people

For the past two months, our eyes were glued to CNN for the latest on flight ML 370 passengers, for the Korean students on that fateful ferry and now for the abducted Nigerian girls.

In all three incidents, some modes of transportation were involved e.g. plane, boat and trucks .

People also disappeared against their wills, and in the first two incidents, presumably dead. And in all three situations, we got visual coverage e.g. high school students putting on life-supports while joking that they were living out their version of the “Titanic”, or a hostage demand to exchange kidnapped girls for political prisoners (with bearded terrorist leader,  gun on the side, gesturing to the HD video camera, in a Bin Laden 2.0 script).

Luckily for us, the viewing and concerned public, there always are panels of experts to help us “think through” the technical, emotional, and historical angles of the missing cases: from those who had worked with the earlier French plane crash to the Italian cruise accident. We are not asked to think for ourselves. Just sit back, watch the commercials, and the panelists will do the talking (as if two months worth of talks will somehow affect the outcome, which, in the ML 370 case, the wrong search area).

Welcome to this side of social media, smart phones and satellite coverage. There had been missing groups of people in the past, but never, this intensive and involving (multi-national and multi-continental).

Meanwhile, we still see the old public shaming Samurai style when the Vice Principle committed suicide (S Korea).  Despite progress in technology and globalization, primal reflexes are still here: asking the astrologers to find the missing plane, killing oneself as scapegoat, and abducting young girls for trafficking (prisoner exchange was just a noble spin, in an attempt to sugarcoat a barbarian act). Meanwhile, rest of the world had learned about these missing girls for almost 5 weeks. Had it been one girl abducted on an US highway, an Amber alert would have immediately been put out (Washington D.C. had a case in point back in March). As sad as the case, this was Nigeria (I have no qualm with the Nigerian people, since I attended grad school with a few students from that country and we were great friends) and only when it evolves into a news “story” that world conscience starts to weigh in. With each passing moment, the search for the missing girls will be more challenging. That which they could not find (missing air passengers), they insisted on finding. That which they could have found (school girls), they ignored. Missing people (the biblical poor) will always be with us;  it’s the squeaky wheel that gets the grease.





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