The death of one is a tragedy…

23 07 2011

The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic –
Josef Stalin

Never a truer word spoken.

You cannot dictate to people how they could or should feel when someone dies or when a million people die.

We do not know the reasons for people ignoring the death of 80+ children in Norway yet openly grieving the death of a pop star, and nor is it our place to comment or judge. Grief is a very personal response and we choose to recognise it in our own way.

We cannot quantify the responses of others towards death, based on our own set of accepted variables or values, yet people insist on doing so. Why can people not respect the choices others and how they decide to come to terms with these kinds of events?

In all honesty, I don’t really care about Amy Winehouse dying as she did not touch me or my life with hers or her music, but it does highlight important issues that do affect me and millions of others, that of living with, or alongside addiction. So it may well be that her death isn’t on the same moral scale as the tragedy in Norway or the growing famine in Africa. But her death is an issue that more British people will be affected by on a daily basis and she still has parents who have lost their little girl. In general the public can connect to such a loss in a far easier and more personal manner than they can mass murder by whatever means. It doesn’t make them wrong, it makes them humans who seek a means of understanding their own mortality.

In society, addiction pays a heavy price. Lives are lost and ruined; those of the addict, their friends and family, their colleagues, their neighbours, the victims of addiction related crimes, society at large. We are all affected.

When a non-famous addict dies, few care, if they hear at all. It’s considered a relief to society. The tragedy of addiction is covered up by the public desperation addicts often feel, and their resulting behaviour to feed that addiction.

When a famous addict dies, it opens up a window to a wider society to try to learn to understand the problems associated with addiction, the causes and the cures. If something positive can be gained from a tragedy and a lesson learned then it needs to be spoke about. Addiction is not just the result of someone who wants a party and doesn’t stop, it masks far bigger problems. Hard drugs, or alcohol reliance are merely symptoms (and perceived cure in the early days) of a worse condition, addiction is the end result of a poorly chosen coping mechanism.

So perhaps you’re one of the many who believe society is sick for focussing on the death of a pop star, allegedly to an addiction, over the death of children at the hands of a murderer but unless you’re living in a fluffy universe where addiction doesn’t happen, then perhaps it’s also worth considering the millions who die worldwide at the hands of drugs / alcohol and their respective multi-million pound trades.

And therein lies an endemic, and often ignored by Mr and Mrs Middle-Class, problem.

When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.
Wayne Dyer




**yes I know the title is not a direct quote from Stalin but it is from Marilyn Manson’s Fight Song 😉




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