Photo by Taslima Akhter

How many need to die before we change our ways?

Photo by Taslima Akhter

Photographer Taslima Akhter: “When I saw the couple, I couldn’t believe it. I felt like I knew them — they felt very close to me.”

My blood boils. I am not normally one to get angry, to be perturbed at the atrocities of our world. I’m normally buoyant and optimistic. But today, I am swearing off a bad habit. A habit of ignoring atrocities, a habit of pretending I don’t have enough time to care, a habit of ignoring the our world’s bad news and staying optimistic. Unfortunately, it took the loss of over 1,000 precious Bangladeshi lives for me to see this and finally weep with despair. I am closer to Bangladesh than most. It’s time I offered my voice to the fray.

Our world is full of cancers. Cancers of the lungs, cancers of our oil addiction, cancers of cheap fashion and cheap thrills. Each of these cancers, had we acted preventatively, could all be avoided. Instead we are dealing with their consequences, epic failures of our society and our humanity. Everything that happened in Savar did not need to happen. Each of those lives did not deserve to meet such a horrible fate. Each of us has some personal responsibility to bear, if only to raise our voices in the protest that we are one world, and a world where so many die unnecessarily is a world I do not accept.

I used to not like challenging the status quo. I used to believe that to be conflict averse was to be a collaborator. But the fact of the matter is that there are boundaries, and that by accepting something that happens and not raising my voice in protest, I am implicitly accepting what happened and not entering the fray of debate.

So my message is this:
Each of deserves some part of the responsibility for those who died in Bangladesh. Each of us needs to question our clothing, our food, our water and our air, because if we don’t we will continue to perpetuate an unjust world, one that is not suitable for our children nor habitable in our lifetimes. We need to become part of the solution, whether that is advocating for more rights for our fellow humans, or taking responsibility for our actions that cause calamities in another so-called ‘removed’ part of the world. It starts with the seed of questioning, of not accepting that which we know to be innately unjust.