Too much shouting is bad for your health

DIPLOMATIC POUCH - Gordon Kricke (The Philippine Star) - January 3, 2019 - 12:00am

The old year has just ended and the Christmas season was an opportunity to take a deep breath, perhaps to read, relax or simply sleep in late. It was also the time to reflect on what was important this year and what will be important in the next. Today we are confronted by challenges which didn’t exist 70 years ago. Globalization, international law and justice, the fight against terrorism, environmental destruction, climate change – they all know no borders. The global climate is changing at a tremendous rate, even if there are some who still confuse climate with weather.

But there is also another phenomenon: It seems people are spending less and less time talking to each other. And even less time listening to each other. Wherever you look – especially on social media – we see haters; there is shouting and daily outrage. What happens when societies drift apart, and when one side can barely talk to the other without it turning into an all-out argument, is all too evident in the world around us. Even in some well-established democracies deep political rifts have opened. No country is immune against these developments. Hate speech has become commonplace even in the political discourse. And it can go even to the point of denying others the right to live. However, the right to live – and to live in dignity – is of course the most important human right we all have.

I was reminded of this recently when I read in a newspaper article that the police pumped dry a whole lake in Northern Germany trying to solve a possible murder case that happed 25 years ago. Jutta Fuchs, a young woman, disappeared in 1993 without trace. Her fiancé soon became a prime suspect. It was known that she planned to leave him, but that he did not want to let her go. After her disappearance he told the police that she ran away with another man and simply left her two year old child behind – a statement nobody who knew her believed. However, there was not enough proof to indict him. In particular the body of Jutta Fuchs has not been found until today. One year after her disappearance a fisherman accidently found a bag with some of her personal belongings in the lake. It has been thrown away there to make sure it will never be found. The police immediately suspected that her body might be sunk there as well. Over the years the lake was searched several times with professional divers and dive robots, but it was just too muddy and opaque- nothing has been found. The police decided recently to make a last effort, even though the chances to find the remains of Jutta Fuchs are probably quite slim. The lake has now been drained and the search for the body is ongoing.

When I read about it I found it initially a bit excessive. All these enormous efforts and huge expenses just to try to solve a cold case that happened 25 years ago. But then I thought again and changed my mind. The family of Ms. Fuchs has a right to know what happened to her. And even more importantly the society has the right to expect from their authorities every effort to solve a possible murder case. Nobody should ever be allowed to get away with murder. A death under investigation that remains unresolved is unbearable. It is a defeat for the rule of law and undermines the trust of the citizens in the state institutions, especially in the police and the judiciary. That is the reasons why the police and the prosecution in Germany may not simply close the file of a possible murder case and stop investigating – even after 25 years. This is also one of the reasons why more than 95 percent of murder cases are solved in Germany. The trust of citizens in the state must be earned over and over again – and it is certainly worth every effort.

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(Gordon Kricke is the Ambassador of Germany.)

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