To Spectate or To Act?

by pulkit on Jun 04, 2008      Category: Inspiration & Humour Tags: famine heal the world pulitzer prize silent spectator

Recalling the story behind the heart-wrenching, Pulitzer-prize-winning photo of a vulture waiting for a child to die so that it can eat it. The photographer Kelvin Carter, who captured this photo in the Sudan famine of 1994, died three months after winning the prize, out of depression. Before his death, he had confided to friends that he wished he had saved the child. This story is quite relevant to today's times with inequity soaring higher than ever, coupled with the elite of the society attaining newer heights of indifference. Do we still want to be silent spectators? For those who don't, the ways to get involved and make a difference are plentiful.

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mynk's picture

Excerpt from wikipedia (

The girl had stopped to rest while struggling to a feeding center, wherein a vulture had landed nearby. He said that he waited about 20 minutes, hoping that the vulture would spread its wings. It didn't. Carter snapped the haunting photograph and chased the vulture away. However, he also came under heavy criticism for just photographing — and not helping — the little girl:

"The man adjusting his lens to take just the right frame of her suffering might just as well be a predator, another vulture on the scene."


On 27 July 1994 Carter drove to the Braamfonteinspruit river, near the Field and Study Centre, an area where he used to play as a child, and took his own life by taping one end of a hose to his pickup truck’s exhaust pipe and running the other end to the passenger-side window. He died of carbon monoxide poisoning at the age of 33. Portions of Carter's suicide note read:

"I am depressed ... without phone ... money for rent ... money for child support ... money for debts ... money!!! ... I am haunted by the vivid memories of killings & corpses & anger & pain ... of starving or wounded children, of trigger-happy madmen, often police, of killer executioners...I have gone to join Ken if I am that lucky."

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