“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

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page


Errors & Omissions: how to spell BBQ and other linguistic irregularities

Guy Keleny
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own