Misplaced Values:Bowie, Bishops and Starvation in Madura
Kevin P Clements
David Bowie’s death is much more gripping to global media than the deaths that have occurred in Madaya over the past 24 hours or the deaths that have occurred in other parts of Syria, Iraq, and Yemen over the same period of time or indeed the deaths that are quietly mounting in Burundi. Bowie is a global celebrity who wrote some great songs, tested different sexual identities and was undoubtedly an enormously talented man…. but who knows what human artistic, musical and other potential has been lost in the Middle East and in the Great Lakes of Africa in recent times?
Why do we allow the media to determine who we should grieve for and why we should grieve for one person over another? Species solidarity requires that we treat the deaths of anyone, anywhere, as occasions for some mourning, some recollection, some acknowledgement. It would be too burdensome for all of us to be mourning every human death all of the time but these unmarked deaths need to be marked, noted and mourned. Behind each one is an individual and familial tragedy.
I hate the Facebook question Whats on your mind?…but since the prompt came up I have been pondering inequality in life and death.Why do we value and mourn celebrity when everyone is making some contribution somewhere to life, survival, art, creativity, love and grappling with what it means to be human?
Anyway, maybe I’m feeling a bit more mortal cos I have just had an anti pneumonia injection .I got it as I was beginning to get a sore throat and cold.Both together have meant that I have been feeling pale, wan and suffering from a dry cough for 2 days now….Not that I am about to shuffle off this mortal coil.
I’ve also been trying to make sense of the mini Lambeth meeting of 34 Anglican Archbishops from all over the world. This is taking place here in Canterbury in the ancient crypt of the Cathedral which I am looking out on from our flat. The Bishops are supposed to be focusing on a range of human problems and dilemmas but the one that will be most acrimonious and most divisive has to do with the relationship between the C of E and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered churchmen and women. African and conservative Archbishops are prepared to walk out of the meeting if they are unable to impose their medieval views on cultures and peoples who have now acknowledged the equality of homosexual and heterosexual partnerships. Why are these Bishops prepared to place unity and community in jeopardy? This too is one of those unfathomable issues. Why is it that some people are willing to divide, oppose, challenge and withdraw from groups, organisations and movements when they cannot get their way? In relation to the meeting that is taking place 500 metres from where I live , we need to ask why Bishops are prepared to polarise and divide over issues of sexuality when they should be united in their work for the abolition of poverty, peace, human rights for all and the encouragement of mercy, forgiveness, reconciliation.?
Its a funny old world I’m hoping that the Bishops might take off their robes, mitres, park their croziers and fancy shoes and realise that each one of them is driven by the same chemicals, hormones, and bodily needs and desires as the rest of us? I am also hoping that those who are shocked by Bowie’s death will find it within them to be shocked by the deaths of all those who are nameless and voiceless and marginal all around the world . They deserve our sympathy as much as David and his fans. I hope, also, that those of us who are suffering minor colds might remember that our ailments are nought when compared to all those suffering and dying from malaria, malnutrition, and millions of other preventable diseases.
Well this is what I am thinking at the moment. But I have been thinking these things for a very long time can’t understand why no one seems to be listening!