What if it was your child?


We all seem to find a way to sympathize or empathize with those around us who feel alone or sad from being single or experiencing a recent break-up. We express emotions watching movies or TV shows where our favourite fictional characters die. We can express happiness and joy for others who reach life achievements or milestones. We are able to find the right emotional reaction for so many things in our world. Though, on Valentine’s Day this year, in the late hours of the night, Ontarians’ phones went off when an Amber Alert was issued for an 11 year-old girl in Brampton — and plenty of people were without sympathy or empathy for anyone close to that young girl, or for the girl herself.

Riya Rajkumar was found dead in her father’s home late on February 14. Meanwhile, there were hundreds of people (probably more than that, unfortunately) complaining about being woken up by the sound of the Amber Alert notification being sent to their phones. What is wrong with people?

Put yourselves in the shoes of this girl’s mother. A young girl, on her birthday, was out with her dad — and eventually — this mother feels worried enough about her daughter that she has to call the police, and then, she too gets the notification on her phone of an Amber Alert, and it’s for her daughter.

Put yourselves in the shoes of this young girl. She wakes up on a Thursday morning looking forward to celebrating her 11th birthday. She goes to school and she gets to celebrate her special day with her friends. She goes home and she spends some time with her mother before going to spend time with her father. When she gets in the car with her father, she thinks she’ll be going to a nice birthday dinner or some other fun activity with one of the two people who she has learned to trust the most in her world. At some point, her day, her night, takes a turn, and in a moment, this girl just wants to be back with her mother. But she never got the chance to go back home, to celebrate the joy of her birthday.

The Amber Alert system is how the girl was located, it’s what helped police track down where she was — but instead of phone lines being available for people to call the police to help, they were tied up with people calling to complain about the alert they got on their phone.

Here’s my message: those of you who felt so angry about a notification waking you up at night that it made you call the police to complain you need a dose of reality, or maybe a dose of empathy and sympathy for others. Would you want to be in the shoes of that young girl, or her mother? What if it was your child who was missing or who was in danger?

Losing a few minutes of sleep, or even a few hours is not the worst thing in the world. Imagine how much sleep Riya’s mother is losing every night? So, to all of you who complained, check yourselves, because you really don’t have it that bad.


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