Do atrocities only matter if they happen in wealthy countries?

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Snippets from the front page of YouTube GB, November 15th. Great sentiments – but why do they only apply to atrocities in Western, developed countries?

I was horrified to hear about the Friday 13th terror atrocities in Paris. I completely understand why people are changing their social media badges to the colours of the French flag as they try to express their abhorrence of the slaughter and show sympathy with the bereaved. I personally see this expression as misguided, but their intentions are well-meant so I admire the sentiment.

Clockwise from top left: Flags of Yemen, Syria, Palestine and Iraq, all countries where innocent people have been barbarically murdered by terrorists in their thousands in recent years. Will YouTube stand with these countries?

But when I turn on YouTube and see it draped with the colours of the French flag, it seems to me narrow-minded, Eurocentric and chauvinistic. What happened in Paris on Friday 13th was hideous and I sympathise with all the victims and their friends and families. But this kind of bloodshed is a daily reality for many ordinary people in Yemen, Syria, Palestine and Iraq. I’ve never seen YouTube’s front page draped in the national flags of any of those countries.

It highlights how pampered and sheltered we are in the wealthy, developed West, compared to many other countries. I believe that our living, growing planet has more than enough resources to allow all countries to be wealthy and developed, without any loss of wealth and comfort for the vast bulk of the population in the wealthier, developed parts of the world.

But it seems that a tiny minority of immensely greedy and powerful people want to gain control of the area known as the “Fertile Crescent” via proxy rulers so that they can plunder that region’s resources. As long as the rest of us allow this to go on, the war and bloodshed will continue.

When the conflicts in places like Yemen and Iraq are aired in the mainstream media few people in the West take notice – not unless our soldiers are directly involved – because it’s just too depressing. People are confused and feel impotent. They don’t know how they could help the situation, so they just turn off.

If on the other hand there’s news about animals being badly treated, whether in the UK or South East Asia, people will complain in their droves. And quite rightly – but why is it that people in far off lands, including children, are seen as less important than animals when it comes to brutality and barbarity?

I reckon that many people just feel overwhelmed when they hear news about atrocities in conflicts they don’t really understand, and that’s why they generally don’t act until it’s on their doorstep, until the comfortable world they’ve built around themselves is directly threatened.

But the operators of a massive corporation like Google/YouTube should know better. They serve the people of the world, and they should treat all of their customers with equal respect.

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