Saturday, November 20, 2004

So Many Deaths

November 2. Rumour spread quickly like wildfire that HE Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, at 82, had passed away. He had been ill and had been at close calls a couple of times before but this time, it seemed that death had finally claimed him.

Everyone was sad and the entire country spent eight days of mourning. It seemed appropritate that he passed on during Ramadan, when Muslims fasted and prayed, because it seemed proper to mourn him in this fashion - fasting, self denial and meditation - for his life was one of incredible leaps and bounds that benefitted not only his people but a lot of those who have chosen to find greener pastures on distant shores.

Not long after that, Yasser Arafat too passed on. Whilst CNN and even BBC was busy talking about the results of the US election, HE Sheikh Zayed got a customary "running" byline on the TV screens reporting his demise. A week after, Arafat got more coverage for his life and death and news on him ran longer.

It seemed a bit odd. Sheikh Zayed, who lived a life of peace, made his people prosper, gave back to the country the wealth and developed the UAE to an outstanding metropolis got nothing more than a running byline or an end or closing report from one of the Arabic stations broadcasting via E-vision. While Arafat, who had spent his life, ok promoting and supporting the Palestinian cause - but had been, according to CNN reports greatly involved in terrorist actions got more air time. Surely he was more prominent as a personality. Indeed he was more popular. But compared to the achievements of one man against the other...?

Makes us realise what our priorities are, even when how we deal with what's notable and what's not. Acts of violence and division will definitely get more air time. Just take a look at the Gulf War. Meanwhile, stories to inspire us, real human beings to take on as role models for our youth go running by at the bottom of the TV screen, more often unread, unknown, unshared.

Sadly, I'd rather watch 'The Apprentice' than the frigging news anyway. "Money, money, money, money..."

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