TEN YEARS or so ago I remember being much moved by a travel magazine interview with the BBCs John Simpson that touched on how fear of his own death in a war zone had intensified since the birth of the young son he’d taken on a trip. The amiable and “fearless” journalist was shown to be warmly human as well as more generally humane. (See another similar piece about Simpson here)

Marie Colvin of The Sunday Times, who died in Homs yesterday, had been speaking and writing about witnessing the death of a child, for the umpteenth time, in brutal circumstances:

There was a two year old, they … found the shrapnel had gone into the left chest and the doctor just said ‘I can’t do anything’ and his little tummy just kept heaving until he died.

My Lenten wondering this morning asks for how much longer will our humankind fail to recognise the tenderness, the warmth, the fundamental goodness in other people? – graces recognised and tenaciously defended by correspondents like Simpson and Colvin in some of the darkest situations upon the face of the earth.

And I am utterly convicted by my own answer. Future civilization and the people around me right now will be directly affected by me and mine. Every confident assertion I make to the effect that my life – my faith, my politics, my practice, my sexuality – is somehow necessarily worth more than someone else’s encourages mirrored reaction. Mirage. Fantasy. Danger.

Let me not forget that Simpson and Colvin and their colleagues risk life and limb – sometimes paying the ultimate price – to bring innocent little heaving tummies to my attention. Their labours and their moral gumption properly cause me to re-examine my every priority. And I am grateful for them.

Marie Colvin, 1956-2012, rest in peace.

My feet walk gently on the earth. Peace is every step

Thich Nhat Hanh

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