After yesterday’s horrible terrorist bombings in Brussels, the solidarity-inspired profile pictures are popping up on Facebook once again. This reminds me of the controversy around using the French tricolore filter after the Paris attacks back in November 2015. Many people showed their sympathy for the victims in Paris, but did so less visually for those in Beirut just the day before. Are European lives more valuable than Middle Eastern ones? Likewise, do we care so much more about innocent civilians who happen to die in Belgium, rather than their Turkish counterparts in Ankara – or anywhere else for that matter?
When I was about twelve years old, I was suddenly determined to become an economist one day. Well, at least I wanted to busy myself with money and all that. The occasion of this vision was, ironically, the birthday of a saint (‘Sinterklaas’) who rewards children with gifts in case they behave properly. That evening, I received a novel called Felix en het grote geld (‘Felix and the big bucks’) by Nikolaus Piper. As I couldn’t imagine a more fitting title, I started reading straight away.