Saturday, 20 November 2010

Suffering is the lot of mankind

[The following are a few sentences from an extract in today's Irish Times from the book The Things I’ve Seen: Nine Lives of a Foreign Correspondent, by Lara Marlowe, the newspaper's Washington correspondent.]

Suffering is the lot of mankind; if my reporting sometimes strikes a chord in readers, I believe it is because I feel tied to the people whose pain I describe. As T S Eliot wrote:
“I am moved by ... The notion of some infinitely gentle/Infinitely suffering thing.” Some, like the parents of children who died violently in Ireland and France, became friends. Most have been swallowed up by distance and time. But I do not forget them.

There is Leila Behbehani, the three-year-old Iranian girl whose body I saw in a cold storage warehouse in Bandar Abbas, one of 290 civilians killed when the USS Vincennes guided-missile cruiser shot down an Iranian airliner in 1988. Leila was on her way to a wedding, and was wearing a turquoise party dress. She died with the contorted face of a child who is crying. Captain Will Rogers III, the commander of the Vincennes, was given a medal. (...)

I still believe that the Lockerbie bombing was retaliation for the downing of the Iran Air flight six months earlier.

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