Practical Jokes

I awoke this morning just after 4:00 a.m.  The blanket and comforter that made the bed snug and comfortable when I went to bed had grown heavy and overly-warm.  I decided to start the day early.

The first thing I did was check the news online.  One of the big stories was about the tragic death by suicide of Jacintha Saldanha, the nurse who transferred the Australian prank call to the ward where the Duchess of Cambridge was hospitalized.  I read the article, then watched an interview with the two DJs, Mel Greig and Michael Christian.

There’s no question the DJs are sorry their practical joke had such tragic consequences.  Could they have foreseen the results of their joke?  Probably not.  But I think this awful situation should give each of us pause to think about how devastating a “simple practical joke” can be.  A joke made at the expense of another person may not be intended to harm the person, but it can. It can cause an emotional maelstrom that we might never expect, nor understand.  But knowing it can happen, “practical jokes” should be given more thought, beforehand, than we tend to give them.

I do not blame Mel Grieg and Michael Christian for the death of Jacintha Saldanha.  While their joke may have precipitated her death (at least that’s what the media reports lead us to believe), surely they did not intend it and they had no way of knowing the depth of the impact of their joke. The pain they’re in, and will be in for a long time to come, is sufficient punishment for them.  And they’ve lost their radio program, as well.  I think that’s enough.

But their experience should teach the rest of us something we too often neglect to think about.  Always, always be considerate of other  people.  You never know what they’re going through.  I hope I can learn that lesson and act accordingly.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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