Thursday, July 24, 2014

Flight MH17 Is A Stark Reminder Of The Dangers Of Living In A Violent World

Caroline Nelissen /

The windmill in the Dutch town of Harderwijk, where residents, like their fellow citizens across the Netherlands, are mourning the terrible loss of life after the Malaysian Airlines passenger plane MH17 was shot down over Ukraine last week. About two-thirds of the 298 people on board were Dutch.
By Caroline Nelissen
Senior Correspondent
TORONTO, Ontario, Canada – As a Dutch person temporarily living abroad, I usually don’t follow news from home very closely. That changed when flight MH17 was shot out of the air, killing all 298 passengers on board. As soon as I read that 193 of the  passengers were from the Netherlands, I turned to the Dutch media for more information.
I probably don’t even fully feel the weight of this tragedy because I am so far away from my home country, but despair leaps at me from the Dutch newspaper websites.
They’re filled with endless reports on grieving family members, friends and communities and stories of people who were going on a simple trip, unaware it would be their last.
News sites meticulously track developments, with the only unequivocal certainty that all of these 298 people are dead.
As I scan through the passenger list, many of the Dutch last names carry the familiarity of home and I can easily imagine the kinds of lives these people led,  the kind of towns they’re from.
They could very well have been my family, friends or acquaintances.
It horrifies and disgusts me how many people lost their lives in a single instant and how many more lives have been ripped apart by the loss of loved ones.
Of course I have always been aware that people die like this every single day, as I scan over the headlines announcing the death toll in yet another war.
People get caught up in conflicts that aren’t theirs and their lives are wiped away in a matter of minutes. From one second to the next, families and communities will never be the same.
Myah Guild /

A silent march in Amsterdam Wednesday
evening paid tribute to the memory of those
who perished on the plane.
Most of the time, these people are not from my own country. I don’t know what they look like, what their plans for the future were and how many people will miss them for the rest of their lives.
It feels different when it hits so close to home, but it’s not.
So when I think of the pain the communities around those aboard flight MH17 feel right now, I also think with horror of the countless people who have been through the same thing, and all the people who will in the future.
There are people who are alive right now, who won’t be tomorrow because they will get  caught up in a conflict they did not start and one that they have no control over.
People will lose dear friends and neighbors, children and parents. Because they find themselves at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Because we live in such a violent world.
It’s most people’s worst nightmare to lose the ones they love, yet we can’t seem to escape from the eternal cycle of violence and destruction we find ourselves in.
It is all so pointless and it is so hard to know what to do to make any of it better.
So I just want take a moment to contemplate the  gravity of the death tolls we have had to read about every single day.
Because it’s the only thing I can think of doing.  

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