Friday, 14 November 2008
Are you sadder when you hear the awful details of a case like this because you're looking at a lovely little boy and can't imagine anyone doing anything like that to him? Or are you terrified, as a parent, of the Madeleine McCann abduction just because you know the agony you'd feel if you were in a similar situation? I find the photographs of Baby P's bloodstained clothing almost unbearable to look at. I don't understand how anyone could do what they did to a child of any age. Of course, I don't understand a lot of things. I don't understand the Holocaust, either, or the senseless slaughter of the Somme. But I wonder whether tragic tales like this have more emotional impact on those with a closer personal understanding of the situation? Ian McEwan's 'A Child in Time' had a greater personal resonance for me than his 'Enduring Love'. Or is it just that some people have greater depths of empathy than others? Either way, there must be something vital missing from the personality of anyone responsible for such horrendous cruelty. Ironic that the story should be headline news on the day of 'Children in Need'.