Saturday, November 03, 2007

Don't You Hate Obituaries ?

I do.

I hate them.

Not only because they’re a pain to write, but also because they mean you’re giving a final farewell to someone. And final farewells don’t sit well with me, agnostic though I am, the more so when they concern people this rotten world needs alive and present. Not gone.

Benedicte Vaes was a master at her art. Her sword was the pencil, then the keyboard. Her finely honed mind always led her arm unerringly, allowing her to knife through deceit, through lies and to shed a stark light on all the questions she analyzed. Without compromises, aiming only for the truth. Rejecting convenience, and all sides in a matter be damned.

Benedicte Vaes was one of the finest voices of journalism in Belgium. I have read many of her papers in Le Soir, and I can hear her voice echoing in my mind, from radio debates she used to participate in. She was an expert in social and economical matters. She denounced unfairness in laws, in decisions made by the government, the union leaders, or the corporate business associations. She exposed the high and mighty when they destroyed workers’ lives to make their already considerable fortunes grow bigger. She rang the bell when things were getting bad.

She was a voice everyone knew. Everyone respected.

She was a voice people heard. They might not like what she had to say, because she was one of the mightiest voices for the left, although I’m quite sure she wouldn’t like to be qualified that way. She stood for fairness, for justice, and for all that’s good in our human hearts. And when she drew out her sword and wrote, the high and mighty read. They grumbled, they complained, they crushed the paper in their hands before dumping it in the nearest bin. But they read it.

And the truth came glaring out at them all, shaped by the pencil and keyboard of Benedicte Vaes.

Now that fate has struck, as it so loves to do, I sit here at my keyboard wondering: whose voice will rise to replace hers? I sit here, and I hope someone will. Until someone does, the light will shine a bit less bright on this forsaken planet. Unless we do not let ourselves forget.

Unless we do not allow the voice of Benedicet Vaes to fade into silence.

Unless we remember that even though she is now out of our reach, she has left us gifts that will forever remain with us. Gifts that Time will not, cannot erode or take away.


Web pages.

Benedicte Vaes’ weapons were the pencil and the keyboard. Her sword and bow which supported the cause of justice, of fairness, and upheld all that is good in all of us.

What her weapons shaped, wrote and crafted will always remain with us. It’s all still with us. We just need to google her name, and read.

So I will not say farewell, or “I’ll miss your voice”. But I will say, “I’ll remember” and “I’ll keep on reading and forcing my lazy mind to work out the truth behind all the spin of the days.”

Here’s to you, Mrs Vaes. I, for one, will not forget.

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