I have a new post up at Global Comment
I was watching CNN the other day when I learned that John Travolta had suffered a personal loss. It seems his sixteen year old had a seizure and died in the bathroom. The loss of a child is something I think that no parent ever really gets over. The natural order tells us that our children will outlive us, and that they will be our living legacy. From the moment a child is born we spend our lives watching over them, nurturing them and protecting them. Life is finite, and for many, people children provide hope.
I watched as network after network aired updates to this story until I found myself asking, of all the children living on this planet, what made this child so important that his death requires grieving on a national level?
Doctors and acquaintances were interviewed in an effort to secure a connection with the viewing public. I realized that we are meant to weep for this child that we do not know. Jett Travolta is valuable, not for anything he has ever done, but because he is the child of a rich, successful white man.
The continual media coverage of his death as a singular loss to the western world speaks of the way we have allowed a hierarchy of persons to determine which deaths are mourned and which deaths are ignored.
Had his name been Shamar we would not have heard of his passing.
Had his skin been brown, red, or yellow, we would not know his name. Had he grown up in Chinatown, or on a reservation, he would have been deemed part of the surplus population. When underprivileged children die it is considered a relief because then it is one less person to consume the earth’s valuable resources.
We are facing major problems in the oil indistry, the malls in the urban centers are empty, and the homeless rate is rising along with the rate of burglaries. In times of economic downturn it is the poor that are most affected. The invisible underclass that we march by daily on our way to earn a living, know that they have long since been forgotten.