tenpastmidnight blog

Making hay while the sun shines


There was a voluntary three minute silence at 11.00 today to commemorate the loss of life in Spain last week due to terrorist attacks on their trains.

While it is very important to remember these things, and mark the event and show how much it has affected us, I feel the gradually increases in silence time is irritating and rather missing the point of the event. It used to be one minute of silence, for instance on Remembrance day we remember those who died in the World Wars because their sacrifice lets us life the rather content and marvellous lives we have in Britain. Over recent years it's seemed to be stretched to two minutes, and now three. I think this started with the death of Princess Diana, and has been used for large events since by an increasingly lazy media.

One minute, two, three, ten, the actual amount of time rather misses the point. The point is to remember, to reflect on something extremely bad that has happened. There is no amount of time that is right in these situations. It's about a symbolic pause to our daily lives. Making some silences longer than others just starts to bring competition in to it: our disaster was worse than yours, so our silence is going to be longer. You can't quantify disasters that way, they are not an event to be measured and marketed as one worse than the other, they are all bad, that's why we have the moments of reflection at all.

So please, can we stop this increasing of time and just come together to say: this was terrible, we remember this fact and think about it. This is not a competition to point out whose disaster was the worst.
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