Like a great number of people in the First World I sat glued to my television screen in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings.
As I sat watching the same footage repeatedly shown, I noticed a worm move under the pictures which read that bombs had detonated in Iraq. I furthered realised that many more people were killed and injured there than in Boston.
It occurred to me that we're used to bombs going off over in the Middle East but when it happens in a First World country we sit up and take notice. At least I hope that's the reason because I would hate to think that we believe that First World lives are worth more than Third World ones simply because of an accident of birth.
I decided that the media was at fault for showing so much footage from Boston and none from Iraq. I immediately knew that the media would counter that argument with the justification that it was just meeting the public demand.
That begs the question: is the media the director or reflector of public opinion? Does it shape the way we think and feel about issues by what it shows or does it show what we want to see?
Either answer makes me feel somewhat hopeless. If the media shape the way we think and feel about things then we are living in the very society George Orwell wrote about in his futuristic novel 1984 and can no longer think for ourselves. Scary stuff.
If, on the other hand, the media really is just showing what we want to see, what kind of a society have we become when we place a higher value on someone's life just because of who they are and where they live?
Footprints is about trying to live as ethically as possible. To sit and blindly accept the images being shown without questioning the fairness of the coverage would go against the way we try to live. To blindly accept what we - as a society - have become or, at least, what the media think we've become would also go against it.
Fortunately, in the same week, I've witnessed a magnificent and heartening example of consumer power at its best. That, however, is for another post.