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Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “discrimination”

The unlikely escapades of a gold member

flying_penguin_2072615He was not unfamiliar with cold “jokes” or the usual glary eyes when they spotted his name. John Beene was not exactly a name that passed unobserved. Yes, it did sound like that famous – or rather, infamous – actor, but when he was being called out, Mr Beene became a head-turner. You see, everyone was expecting to spot that awkward-looking fellow who starred in the homonymous British television series. But they never saw him. Instead, they found a rather short and bumpy middle aged man, who was growing bald from the top sideways and with wrinkles engulfing his eyes to the extent that he seemed exhausted from life itself.

But Mr Beene was quite an energetic man. And today he was super excited.

He was traveling first class.

No, of course he couldn’t afford it. He had spent almost all of his adult life working at a family pharmacy that was passed down generations, thus was used to the home economics of saving, depositing, and only allowing for short (but sweet) luxuries. His nephew, however, was recently hired in a leading airlines company. And as a promo stunt, combined with some discrete manipulation of customer data, he managed to secure his uncle a gold membership card with a free first class trip. To Thailand.

So there he was. Mr Beene, whose times flying could be counted on one hand, was now seated on the very first seat of a huge Jumbo plane preparing to skid to the other side of the world.

He was prepared for the luxury. He was even looking forward to it. But how much is too much luxury?

Once the plane doors closed, the stewardess, dressed in a clean pressed white and orange suit with a small cap clipped tightly on her gel-smoothed hair bob, offered him a welcome drink. The champagne tickled his nose and he jolted slightly in his seat. As soon as the plane took off, she returned with a huge smile and a wet hot towel in preparation for his lunch. A menu soon followed. Mr Beane was dumbfounded. Last time he travelled, he remembered a stale sandwich poorly packed being literally thrown at him. And that was it. Now, there was a selection of four-course meals.

They were still piping hot when they arrived; the steam and the aroma filled his nozzles and built up his appetite. Was he surely on a plane in mid-air? There were restaurants he had dined at that were not even half as good as this.

The meal was to be eaten using stainless steel cutlery. The drink – anything he chose – was served in crystal glass on his side. He had all the arm and leg room he desired and could stretch and move around to his heart’s content. Compare this to the stuffed, cramped, if-you-flinch-I’ll-punch-you-without-meaning-to economy class just a few rows behind.

Heck, there are people who travel like this all the time? Thought Mr Beene, who was trying to act all normal and accustomed to this treatment, but he couldn’t find the damn tray to put his five-star food on. Is there a secret button you need to push?


There we are striving to make ends meet. Counting pennies to get through the month. To pay bills on time. To get the kids through school. To be able to go to the beach during the summer. To buy a few gifts for Christmas. All whilst becoming adept at mental calculations. And then there are those who don’t need to do all of this. Who don’t need to worry if they run out of money, because they know they won’t. Those who have others doing the hard chores. Who even have help for connecting a couple of cables, let alone everything else. Those who find it natural to go on ski trips to the snowy Alpine slopes during the winter, and indulge on the sandy Caribbean shores during the summer. Those who never really have to work for anything. Those “upstairs” who see life a lot differently than those “downstairs”. Such is the class chasm between business and economy class. As is in real life, a refugee risking their very life in hope of a (brighter) future will always experience, live, and know life so vastly in contrast to what an upper-class elite bred into wealth and power will. The former will even travel hidden in the back of chock-full trucks illegally crossing borders in the night; the latter will travel on private planes, driven by chauffeurs and guarded by suited security men.

You see, there are some who have money and are raised as “born-elites” having it all easy in life. And there are others who only have emotions, and are left wondering where the heck they hid they food tray in first class…


The Journalistic Hunger Games

460475_journalismA taxi driver on our way to my destination one day told me that “journalism is a dirty job”. He said that journalists today must be “part of the system in order to succeed – to say one thing, think another, and do another. They are disgraceful”. And I was left wondering since when this occupation – one of the most wonderful and most important there are, ended up being thought of as inferior, non-profitable and “dirty”.

A graffiti in an EU country stated that a democracy is only as good as its journalists. Yet today almost everyone agrees that journalism worldwide has deteriorated. And this is not only due to the rise of social media, blogs and the widespread use of the Internet where everyone feels that they are qualified to write (about) anything. It is also because the quality of journalism has significantly declined. When articles published are badly written, lack information, are misspelled and without any syntax, how will journalism provide a good example to the masses?

One of the basic principles of journalism is that it will offer citizens the truth no matter the circumstances, and in a clear and simple way. Without destroying values, or taking a stance for or against an issue. This is the way it should be – the simple, unadorned, and unexaggerated truth.

So many journalists sacrifice their life for this exact principle – for the citizen’s right to proper information. In 2013 at least 70 journalists were killed in the line of duty, while in only the three first months of 2014, another 15 have already been killed. A profession for which people risk their lives should undoubtedly be respected. But just as in every other case, respect is something to be earned.

The so much bad journalism that exists today negates any good examples that still remain. And when people are more interested in the lives of “celebrities”, then journalism inevitably stoops down a level, with journalists themselves now becoming part of a profession that is not thought of as highly.

Of course, the fact that journalism is among those jobs where the worker is occupied long hours without a proper schedule, no real holidays or overtime, and receives a meagre salary, does not help at all. And in addition, journalists themselves are often scorned. For example, in high-level meetings such as Eurogroup and Ecofin Councils where the elite of governments, financial organisations and other officials gather to hold discussions and conferences, journalists are the ones who spend twelve-hours a day at the press centre trying to communicate to the people in a simple and coherent way what exactly is going on. Yet, they are often faced with insufficient space in which to work, weak Internet connections, and even lack of food. They are often treated as people of an inferior class, just like many employees, or at least all those who do not have a fancy title giving access to the relevant luxury that comes with. It is as if these employees and the other officials are separated into an “upstairs” and a “downstairs” clan. Journalists have to strive to earn their living (and their food), working hours on end in adverse conditions, while officials, delegates and “VIPs” freely enjoy luxurious lunches, extravagant dinners, and even exclusive (free) guided tours.

If journalism’s real purpose is to reveal corruption scandals for example, then ideally it should be clear of such issues itself. A bad name comes out of a bad example given. But it is now time for journalism and its employees to deservedly revive the glory that they lost long ago.

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