In today’s world, everyone wants to be the first to break the news. What sort of news you might ask? News of people killed in wars; news of men killed by terrorists, insurgents and bandits; news of stranded people robbed at gunpoint; news of men who perished in accidents; news of people overwhelmed by hunger and starvation, etc. The news of misfortunes of man make the best headlines; they are what make papers sell these days.
Today, only a handful bothers to wait by and render any help after breaking the bad news. Bad news mania or bad new breakers often go on with their normal lives and, if anything, brag about the fact that they broke it, period!
Just recently, a friend shared with me a touchy story of a celebrated photojournalist who later committed suicide for missing out on his moral responsibility. The man in question is Late Kevin Carter.
The story has it that during the great famine that rocked Sudan in 1993, Carter caught the attention of the world with snapped and circulated “photo of a vulture waiting for a starving Sudanese girl to die so that it can feast on her.” This profound news report earned Kevin Carter Pulitzer Prize for exceptional news caption, “Starving Child and Vulture” but that was not all.
As the celebration last, Carter the celebrant came in direct contact with hard truth that punctured his pride and eventually cost his life too. During a phone-in Radio programme where he was the guest, one of the listeners asked him what happened to the little girl that was starving to death; and he replied: “I did not wait to see what happened after this shot as I had a flight to catch …”
The reply famous man gave exposed his worst achile heel. No doubt, his expertise as a professional photojournalist was brought to bare but his very essence as a human being which is to help others was glaringly missing!
The statement was attributed to George Bernard Shaw who said, “The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that’s the essence of inhumanity.” How come that Carter could not wait to rescue the vulnerable girl? It was indifference, negligence or inhumanity of man to man. And in the Dictionary of Humanity, these were unpardonable sin!
The reaction Kevin Carter got to his reply on the girl was this: “I put it to you that there were two vultures that day; one had a camera”! The action of Carter reduced him to the status of a News Vulture!
The euphoria that came with the professional breakthrough of Kevin Carter was short-lived. When a man lose sight of his essence as a human being, he ceases to live even though he exists. The global award winner lost his humanity and ended his life, sadly. What a great tragedy!
The action of Kevin Carter contrast sharply with that of celebrated mother Theresa. A story was reported on this great woman who cancelled an important function to rescue a dying soul. That is the way it should be!
Of what importance is human profession if it will not translate into putting smiles on someone’s face? The victims you see today were once like you and in most cases better people but fate befell them. It could be anybody even you!
If you have a story to tell, let the world know about it but tell us what you are doing about it too. If you have a bad news, break it but your intention must be to draw attention for the public to join you in rescuing the situation. It is only saddists who derive pleasure in the misfortune of others; or griefed at the prosperity of their fellow men. And this is not normal.
Poverty and hunger are monsters, when they are up against anyone of us, don’t leave the victim to catch a flight. Don’t break the news in town when you have done or will do nothing to rescue or bring succour.
You might be in control of your situations and in the position to help the most vulnerable amongst us but if failed to do so; time shall fail you too. Your opportunities in life end at the ‘shore’ – when you dropped dead. Don’t be a news vulture but present solution in times of need!
Do not be like the waiting Vulture which always leverage on the bad conditions of others to make a living because we are all victims of the uncertainties of life. As I conclude, let me draw our attention to the poem by Lord Byron (1788-1824) titled, “The Ocean.” It reads in part:
“ROLL on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean, roll!
Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain;
Man marks the earth with ruin; his control
Stops with the shore; upon the watery plain
The wrecks are all thy deed, nor doth remain
A shadow of man’s ravage, save his own,
When, for a moment, like a drop of rain,
He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan,
Without a grave, unknelled, uncoffined, and unknown. . .” Nature’s warning here!
(Modest Thoughts with Ayuba Yilgak’ha, June26, 2021; SMS: 08118161263; Email firstname.lastname@example.org)