Richard North, 05/01/2005  

A moment's reflection for lives so cruelly ended by the tsunami is right and proper, although there can be hardly anyone who has kept abreast with the news that has not been keenly aware of the unfolding tragedy, and empathised with those affected.

However, there is a very fine line between showing respect for the dead, acknowledging the scale of the current human disaster, and maudlin sentimentality.

Whether that line was crossed today with the Europe-wide three-minute silence at noon is a moot point, but more than a few eyebrows were raised when the period allocated was longer than that afforded to the millions of victims of two world wars.

But then, as the BBC proudly informed us, giving the event the top slot on its hourly bulletins, this was an EU initiative. It is too cynical to remark that this is the true measure of the beast?

As aid workers out in the field are still racing against time to reach the more isolated communities, the only thing of any substance that the EU has been able to offer is three minutes silence.

I really cannot resist remarking – although I really shouldn't – that, given the "success" of this event, perhaps the commission should repeat it, many times. This time, though, it sould apply it only to its own members. If they added a few thousands noughts, and made it effective from today, the world might be a better place.

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