Saturday, 30 October 2010

Linda Norgrove

I wanted to make reference to Linda Norgrove on a day when her parents have displayed extraordinary grace, dignity and forgiveness when faced with what must be unwelcome media scrutiny, all while still dealing the the grief of the loss of their daughter. Linda was the woman who was killed during a rescue attempt in Afghanistan after being kidnapped while undertaking humanitarian work out there. She was working out there out of a simple desire to help other people. No religious impulse or imperative drove her out there, she was there because, we're told, she grew to love Afghanistan and simply wanted to do something to help people.

I have no desire to debate the fact that some of the people out there don't want Westerners' help, it would do her memory an injustice and in any case should not be used as a dilute solution to water down the purity of her altruism. It's an entirely separate argument as far as I'm concerned. She was there simply to try to make a difference, understood the risks, and ended up making the ultimate sacrifice for it.

Her parents, as well as allowing part of her humanist funeral to be shown, have made it plain that they do not blame, nor want anybody else to apportion blame on, the Americans who it seems inadvertently killed their daughter while trying to rescue her. Their response to this whole thing, when they must be filled with despair at the loss of a daughter they must be rightly extremely proud of, speaks volumes for their qualities as people. It was clearly in their image that such a courageous and empathetic daughter grew up. I didn't know Linda and will never know her parents, but in a world in which superlatives are thrown around all too easily, and heroes acclaimed on the flimsiest evidence or achievement, here are three people we can all look up to.

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