A boy drowned… and my wife was quoted in the newspaper!

Humility. A sense of perspective. An awareness of the feelings of other people. The good grace not to take every single opportunity to puff out your chest and demonstrate how important you are. You might expect these virtues to come to the fore when a human being dies. You might think these virtues especially important during the midst of a humanitarian crisis. But not everybody shares those virtues.

Normally the displacement of millions of innocent Syrians tends to weigh on me as merely one of a seemingly endless series of humanitarian crises for which there is never enough attention or care. But put one particular namecheck into a Guardian editorial and you have my undivided attention.

Those of the words of Patrick Nielsen Hayden, writing about how his wife was quoted in the Guardian.

For those unfamiliar with the situation, what matters to this man is not that the body of an innocent three year old was washed up on a beach, or that the child’s photograph was taken to sell newspapers raise awareness of important topical events. What matters to this man is that a hack working for the Guardian newspaper took an irrelevant quote that his wife made about storytelling, and used it to make a clumsy point about the way newspapers and photographs influence the perception of a humanitarian crisis. And how do the readers of this man respond to his gloating? By congratulating him and his wife on their success.

These people believe they ‘grow luminous by eating light’. However, they are guilty of making light of a human tragedy.