Robert J. Burrowes, New Age Islam
the world watched and waited with bated breath for the outcome of the
substantial global effort – involving over 100 cave divers from various
countries, 1,000 members of the Thai Army and 10,000 others in various roles –
to rescue a team of 12 young football players and their coach, who were trapped
inside a flooded cave in Thailand for 17 days, 850,000 children were killed by
human adults in other parts of the world, many of them simply starved to death
in Yemen or other parts of Africa, Asia and Central/South America.
other children were killed in ritual sacrifice, many children were killed after
being sexually trafficked, raped and tortured, many were killed in wars
(including in Yemen), many were killed while living under military occupation,
many died as child soldiers or while working as slave laborers, and vast
numbers of other children suffered violence in a myriad other forms ranging
from violence (including sexual violation) inflicted in the family home to
lives of poverty, homelessness and misery in wealthy industrialized countries
or as refugees fleeing conflict zones. See ‘Humanity's
“Dirty Little Secret”: Starving, Enslaving, Raping, Torturing and Killing our
did the world’s corporate media highlight the flooded Thai cave story so
graphically and why do so many ordinary people respond with such interest –
meaning genuine emotional engagement – in this story? But not the others just
what does this tell us about human psychology and geopolitics?
to say, a great deal.
the Thai cave drama, major corporate media outlets, such as the Washington
Post and the BBC, were routinely releasing ‘breaking news’ updates
on the status of the rescue effort. At high points in the drama, reports on
this issue were overshadowing major political and other stories of the day. At
the same time, there were no ‘breaking news’ stories on any of the many myriad
forms of violence against children, which were (and are still) killing 50,000
children each day.
why the corporate media interest in this essentially local (Thai) story about a
group of 12 children trapped in a cave? And why did it attract so much support,
including foreign cave divers, engineers and medics as well as technology
billionaire Elon Musk, who flew in to investigate rescue options and assist
with the rescue effort. They and their equivalents are certainly not flying in
to rescue children in a vast number of other contexts, including where the
provision of simple, nourishing meals and clean water would do wonders.
in essence, the story was a great one for the corporate media, simply because
it reported on something of little consequence to those not immediately
impacted and enabled the media to garner attention for itself and other
(western) ‘heroes’ drawn into the story while engaging in its usual practice of
distracting us from what really matters. And it was an easy story to sell simply
because the media could use a wide range of safe emotional triggers to draw
people into the dramatized story without simultaneously raising difficult
questions about the (appalling) state of the world and responsibility for it.
simple language: like sports events and other forms of entertainment, the cave
rescue provided a safely contained time and space for people to feel
emotionally engaged in (this case) a real-life drama (with feelings like fear
and relief allowed an outlet) while carefully reinforcing their unconscious
feeling of powerlessness to do anything about it and their acceptance of this.
This is why it was so important that expert rescue efforts were highlighted:
the key media message was that ‘there is nothing you can do’.
course, in this context, this was largely true. The problem is that the
corporate media coverage wasn’t aimed at this context. It was aimed at all
those other contexts which it wasn’t even discussing, let alone highlighting:
the vast range of issues – including the many ongoing wars and endless military
violence, the threat of nuclear war, the climate catastrophe and innumerable
threats to our biosphere posed by such activities as rainforest destruction,
the refugee crisis, military occupations, as well as the ongoing violence
against children in so many contexts as touched on above – that need a great
deal of our attention but for which the elite uses its corporate media to
distract us and reinforce our sense of powerlessness.
aspect of the story was the way in which it highlighted the ‘accidental’ nature
of the incident: no one was really responsible, even the hapless coach who was
just trying to give his young players an interesting excursion and whom,
according to reports, none of the parents blamed.
focusing on the logistical details of the story (the distance into the cave,
the narrowness of certain passages, rescue possibilities, equipment, the threat
of monsoon rains...), without attributing blame, the media could reinforce its
endless message that ‘no-one’ is responsible for the state of the world. Hence,
no individual and no organization is responsible for doing anything either.
Again, this message is designed to deepen a sense of powerlessness and to make
people disinclined to act: to make them powerless observers rather than active
participants in their own fate.
an aside, of course, it should be noted that in those contexts where it serves
elite interests to attribute blame, it certainly does so. Hence, elites might
contrive to blame Muslims, Russians, Palestinians or the other latest target
(depending on the context) for some problem. However, in these contexts, the
story of ‘blame’ is framed to ensure that elites have maximum opportunity to
act as they wish (often militarily) while (again) engendering a sense of
powerlessness among the rest of us.
tragedy of the Thai cave incident is that one man died and many boys spent 17
days in a situation in which they were no doubt terrified and suffering genuine
physical privation. But elite media cynically used the event to distract us
from vitally important issues, including ongoing grotesque violence against
children in a large number of contexts, and to reinforce ‘The
Delusion “I Am Not Responsible”’.
short, while the 12 boys and their coach were rescued after 17 days trapped in
a flooded cave in Thailand which required a sophisticated and expensive
international effort, during the same period around the world, 850,000 children
were killed by human adults. Even in Thailand during this 17-day period, apart
from those children violated and killed as a result of sex trafficking and
other violence, 119 children drowned (at the rate of seven each day). See ‘Swim
Safe: Preventing Child Drowning’. Obviously,
these children were ignored because there was no profit in reporting their
plight and helping to mobilize an international effort to save them.
what can we do?
for a start, we can boycott the corporate media and certainly not spend any
money on it. What little truth it contains is usually of even less value (and
probably gets barely beyond a good sports report). Instead, invest any money
you previously spent on the corporate media by supporting progressive news
outlets. They might not have reported events in relation to the Thai cave
rescue but they do report on the ongoing violence inflicted on children in more
grotesque circumstances such as the war in Yemen. They will also report and
analyze important global events from a truthful and life-enhancing perspective
and will often offer strategies for your engaged involvement.
you want to understand why most people are suckered by the corporate media,
whose primary function is to distract and disempower us, you will get a clear
sense from reading how adults distract and disempower children in the name of
‘socialization’. See ‘Why
Violence?’ and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology:
Principles and Practice’.
you want to nurture children to be powerful agents of change who will have no
trouble resisting attempts (whether by the corporate media or any other elite
agent) to distract and disempower them, you are welcome to consider making ‘My
Promise to Children’.
you are easily conned yourself, you will vastly enhance your capacity to
discriminate and focus on what matters by ‘Putting
Feelings First’ which will, among other things,
restore your conscience, intuition and ‘truth register’, vital mental functions
suppressed in most people.
are also welcome to consider participating in ‘The Flame
Tree Project to Save Life on Earth’ which maps
out a fifteen-year strategy for creating a peaceful, just and sustainable world
community so that all children (and everyone else) has an ecologically viable
planet on which to live.
for the vast range of other manifestations of violence against children touched
on above, you might consider using Gandhian nonviolent strategy in any context
of particular concern to you. See Nonviolent
Campaign Strategy or Nonviolent
might also consider signing the online pledge of ‘The
People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’
which explicitly identifies the role of the corporate media, among many other
elite agencies, in promoting violence.
I pleased that the 12 children and their coach in Thailand were rescued? Of
course I am. I just wish that an equivalent effort was being made to rescue
each of the 50,000 children we will kill today, tomorrow, the next day and the
day after that….
J. Burrowes has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human
violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand
why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He
is the author of ‘Why Violence?’ His email address
is email@example.com and his website is here.
New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African
Muslim News, Arab
World News, South
Asia News, Indian
Muslim News, World
Muslim News, Women
in Islam, Islamic
In Arab, Islamophobia
in America, Muslim
Women in West, Islam
Women and Feminism