“Reward MH370”: We need to have faith in those who govern

But attacking the relatives of the lost is inexcusable  


Sadly, I’ve lost many loved ones over the years, attending more funerals than weddings and christenings put together. As I result, I’m better versed than many on the inexorable cycle of grief, and the rocky road that is the healing process. I would never be so arrogant as to say I know how to deal with it better, but I am more familiar with the journey and its concurrent emotions - and only because of direct, painful experience.

Touch wood, however, I’ve never lost anyone truly close to me in mysterious circumstances, so I cannot know how that must feel. I cannot know therefore how bewildered the desperate families of missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 must be to set up a crowd-sourced whistle-blower fund, “Reward MH370”, in the hopeful belief that someone, somewhere must know what happened to the jet that went missing two months’ ago with 239 people on board.

Nor, can I know the overwhelming terror, guilt, worry and helplessness that Gerry and Kate McCann must endure daily as they continue to search for answers regarding the disappearance of their daughter Madeleine, seven years ago. As the police dig in Praia de Luz, and stories fly around the possibility of “interviewing”three people, these events pass for “latest developments”, whereas in truth there have been no meaningful developments since that infamous May night.

I have also – luckily – never had to deal with a child or other loved one being known to have been kidnapped, taken or otherwise held, apparently against their will, an occurrence rare even that the two preceding cases. Could you or I accurately and meaningfully put ourselves therefore in the shoes of Robert Bergdahl, the father of Bowe, the US soldier released in a prisoner swap with the Taliban after five years in captivity. Yes, the one who grew a beard and learned Pashto, and who is being destroyed for it in the American media.

Bergdahl senior has now received at least four death threats as rumours swirl about the nature of both Bowe’s capture and subsequent release. Was Bowe a deserter? Did he ‘go native’ or ‘turn’ like Sgt Brody in Homeland? Whatever the truth, was his release worth trading five Guantanamo terrorist suspects for?

We can all debate that one safely, freely and dispassionately. Just as some of us can “tut” over the supposed “waste” of time and resources in continuing the hunt for Madeleine McCann, and criticize her parents as “delusional”. The same charge of course is being levelled – at least in private – at the MH370 relatives, whose belief in a cover-up has already won its place in some people’s great conspiracies list alongside 9/11 and the JFK assassination.

So, I don’t know how I would feel in any of those situations because I have never been exposed to them. Except, that is, in one regard. If I was a relative of a missing passenger, if I were the parent of a long-lost child or if my son or daughter had been held captive, I would want the authorities to move heaven and earth and more to find out whatever the hell had happened and act to find them and bring them home. That much I know. That much I know that any of you would feel too if it was your child, husband, wife, parent, sibling or other relative.

In these moments we need to have faith in those who govern though. So, yes, it does matter what Obama traded in return for Bowe; what the Portuguese and British police forces did or did not do in time, and what the Malaysian government does and does not know about that plane’s disappearance. But, attacking the relatives? Where is our humanity? Heaven forbid it should happen to you.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

£25,000 - £30,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a fantastic opportunity...

Neil Pavier: Commercial Analyst

£50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...

Loren Hughes: Financial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Loren Hughes: Are you looking for a new opportunity that wi...

Sheridan Maine: Finance Analyst

Circa £45,000-£50,000 + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ac...

Day In a Page

Read Next

I might be an MP, but that doesn't stop me fighting sexism with my breasts

Björt Ólafsdóttir

Daily catch-up: opening round in the election contest of the YouTube videos

John Rentoul
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor