The fire killing 22 - maybe more - people in a sheltered housing building in the north west of Poland over the Easter holiday was tragic and sad. But why have the minute of silences and the state pronounced day of mourning turned into minutes and days?
Nobody knows why fire swept through the building housing families down on their luck on Sunday night/Monday morning, killing 22, including young children. Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who was at the scene early Monday morning, said that there was probably a fundamental fault in construction - which was an interesting observation as the building was constructed in the 1970s.
Twenty two lives lost is tragic - that those lives were some of the most in need of help from society is all the more tragic. And a minute of silence at public events and a day of mourning is not nearly enough to pay respect to the victims and their grieving families. What would be more use, of course, would be more concrete and lasting help for Poland’s poor. That would be a more fitting tribute.
Instead, what we get is President Lech Kaczynski announcing, just hours after the event, that there will not be a day of mourning in Poland but Three Days of Mourning. This means that many public events - even a concert in Warsaw dedicated to the life and memory of John Paul II - will be cancelled until official mourning ends on Friday.
Is Poland joining the current trends in the West, where prolonged public shows of emotion and concern are almost obligatory?
I care, therefore I am?
Editor of the spiked web site, Mick Hume, termed this development ‘mourning sickness’, the key event in the UK being the death of Diana, when the British ‘stiff upper lip’ turned into a quivering bowl of jelly. Where Britain was once a place reticent to show its emotions is now a place where to burst out crying in public - like Chelsea captain John Terry did so memorably after missing a penalty in the European Champion’s League final last year - somehow makes that person more admirable.
Poland is a country that has seen many tragic events, most of which are slightly more significant than missing a penalty against Liverpool. It’s sadness is part of its history. But the inflation of a minute of silence into half hours of silence and a day of mourning into half a week, is puzzling. Being resilient and strong used to be values respected in Poland - instead, what we get, is an officially organised sob-fest.
It also does nothing to combat the real reason why those poor people died at the weekend - poverty and neglect of a public building full of people who nobody much thought about, until now.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Posted by beatroot at 4/14/2009