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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » April 30, 2010
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From the Editor-in-Chief
April 30, 2010   
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The world was shocked and saddened when the Polish presidential plane crashed near Russia’s Smolensk airport April 10, killing all 96 aboard.

The scale of the disaster was unprecedented in world politics. While a host of international political and military leaders, artists, athletes and academics have perished in various dramatic circumstances, in times of war and peace, the Smolensk tragedy has no parallel in recent history.

The world’s reaction was just as unprecedented. It could be compared to what happened after the assassination of U.S. President John Kennedy, but back then the world was divided by the Iron Curtain and the reaction of the Western world was not matched by that in the Eastern bloc.

The tragic deaths of the Polish president, his wife, and dozens of the country’s political and military leaders were a shock to Poland. When the news of the crash spread across the globe like a seismic wave, other nations shared the country’s grief.

I cannot remember such an outpouring of condolences (many readers of The Warsaw Voice have sent these as well), so many prominent people making special addresses, and so many countries proclaiming periods of national mourning—for as long as three days in the case of Brazil and Lithuania.

The reaction matched the magnitude of the disaster, because the world is less divided today than before the fall of the Iron Curtain, or at least divided according to different lines.

Sociologists will want to study how different countries and nations responded to the tragedy—ordinary people in many cities around the world rushed to lay flowers and light candles at sites associated with Poland to commemorate the victims. Was this because television and other electronic media stimulated this global grief? Or has the world really become a global village, as McLuhan predicted?

For the grieving Poles, this global outpouring of sadness and sympathy sends a message of support and consolation. The Polish state was tested and proved solid and stable while the world passed the test of empathy.
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