August 17, 2013 at 11:20 pm

What is an explosion?

We’ve all seen them on television, in films, on the internet and maybe even caused a few on our games consoles. But do we really know what an explosion is? I have never seen one with my own two eyes, and I’ve never felt the effects of one on my skin. Like most people, I’ve only seen real explosions on a little box in my house, relaying images from far away lands. Occasionally the odd explosion on British soil causes a range of emotions on these isles from mild concern to outright panic, but still I’ve never seen one.

And because so few people in the west have ever seen or felt or experienced an explosion, because most of the explosions we see are so distant or just not real we can quite easily forget what an explosion actually is. Generally speaking, humans conform to the old adage:

“Out of Sight, Out of Mind.”

The explosions we see in Pakistan, Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Afghanistan and Palestine all happen well out of reach of western territories. They happen in distant lands where natives of English-speaking countries are few and far between. They happen in cities most natives of English-speaking countries have little or no interest of ever visiting. They kill people without faces or names, people who bear no relation to anyone that we know. So instead of concern for the loss of life, we just don’t care. It is after all, ‘Out of sight’.

That is the really concerning thing here. When people die overseas, the masses just don’t care. And why should the masses care? Leaders of nations don’t really care, they may record messages of faux-condemnation but if you followed the paper-trail from the finger pulling the trigger all the way back up to the pen signing the arms deal, you’ll find the hand holding the pen would belong to the leader of one of these nations.

Our media also has a pretty shocking view on explosions and death too, often giving parity to stories such as ‘David Moyes wins his first match in charge of Man Utd this afternoon’ with stories like ‘Security Forces Clear Cairo Mosque’. I think it would be fair to say that if a Briton were injured in this ‘Clearing’ of a Mosque, it would be the headline news story immediately. Forget that 683 people died on Wednesday, that 173 died on Friday. They were Egyptian, who cares about them? A Briton broke a nail in a siege in the Mosque. Then Cameron, or the equally odious Hague, would be on telly in front of a stand of a hundred microphones calling for an end to the violence in Egypt.

But no British people have died in Egypt, no British people broke their nail in a siege, no leading politicians have called for an end to the violence or even called the coup out for what it actually is. A military coup led by the same Generals who served the deposed Mubarak. So the public follow suit, instead of reading about the Egyptian situation, they read about an online poll of airline passengers’ opinions of airports. Really.

Only when an explosion happens in Britain do the masses sit up and take note. I have some vague recollections of a helicopter crashing in Central London earlier this year, the initial reaction was measured: “TERRORISTS ATTACK LONDON”. I also seem to recall a fire at a tyre recycling depot causing some consternation last year. And of course the riots in 2011, where the damaging of property, looting of multi-national chain stores and the stealing of Basmati rice received much more attention than the killing of a young, black male by police.

Can we blame the masses for not caring though? Looking at the current political situation in the UK, I think the answer is no. Voter apathy will reach all new lows in the 2015 General Election, because Cameron is a profiteering little c*nt who’ll do whatever it takes to hold on to power (apart from improve our country) and Miliband is weak, shifting Labour almost as far to the right as the Tories. Voting for anybody else is always a ‘wasted vote’ anyway, but this time around I think more people will realise that none of these people are the right ones to take us forward, so why bother?

And that attitude, which I have to say I agree with, poisons other aspects of our thinking too. Apathy is like a virus, it first affects our desire to vote where it multiplies inside us making us no longer willing to stand for or against anything any more. Because the ordinary man or woman in the street is losing interest in politics at home, crises abroad only seem like an extension of our politics where it doesn’t really matter who wins, because in the end we’re all f*cked anyway.

As it happens, I won’t vote Labour or Tory in 2015. I may not even vote at all, not through apathy but through protest. I’m not saying ‘I don’t care’, I’m saying ‘You’re all useless c*nts’. But that doesn’t mean that I, or anyone else who doesn’t vote, should become politically inactive and unaware. Quite the opposite, we should increase our awareness.

So next time you’re watching the news, reading a newspaper or browsing a news website and you see a story about an explosion, a bomb or death just stop for a second to think how you’d feel if someone connected to you was directly affected. Remember that the actual people affected in these faraway lands are real people too. They have fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, wives and husbands too. They are exactly the same as you in almost every single way, except they’ve experienced a struggle like nothing we ever have. Try to find out the name of one person that died.

Ask yourself then, ‘What is an explosion?’, and maybe we’ll begin to care just a little bit more.