I was sorry to learn today that one of the nurses who fell victim to a sophmoric prank perpetrated by two Australian DJs was found dead three days later. It is not yet clear whether Jacintha Saldanha, a 46-year-old mother of two, committed suicide or died of stress, but it is clear that she was deeply humiliated by a hoax that was aired around the globe, in which the DJs impersonated Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles with the hope of getting information about the hospitalized, pregnant, and severely morning sick Duchess of Cambridge.
The story got me to thinking about how, because of our capacity for deep and unconscious stupidity, we can destroy each other without intending it and how it is incumbent upon us, therefore, to become more conscious and to understand that everything we do and say, everything, matters.
Had DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian known they were about to destroy several lives, including their own, I’m reasonably sure they would have found something else to do with their air time. But, self-awareness and genuine sensitivity to others does not arrive easily, if at all. It is the work of a lifetime, this struggling to awaken, and it comes only when we are made to suffer ourselves over and over.