When we see tragedy it is natural to want to protect ourselves from the grief and anger by finding ways to pull away. The easiest is to rattle off a list of the crimes against humanity that happen in the world everyday.
“If you think this is so bad, well look what happened yesterday to those people, and those people, and those people.”
But I ask how does that help a person rise into a state of action? How does that help someone’s heart extend? From what place do we stand that can we tell someone where their compassion should lie? We can not manufacture empathy or compassion by throwing people facts. Empathy is a felt experience, it is about emotion not reason. It comes from someone making a personal connection. There are as many triggers for it as people. We can only tap into it with care, and try our best not to diminish it as we all know it will come in handy later.
Yes, I would like you to shed tears too for the causes and people I find most important but to get there I believe I first must give you room to shed the tears that come naturally to you. I am in no position to tell you what should make you cry, no one is. From feeling pain we connect to the pain of others and it is time and process that weave those two together not facts, not when people’s eyes are still blurred by tears. If you try and overload a person with a list of tragedies, “if you feel bad about X you should should feel worse about Y,” the overwhelming enormity of it all causes someone to desensitize themselves to the plight of everyone.
“The world’s going to hell in a hand-basket what can you do!!! “
The greatest sadness to me is I do not think many of these compassion control and sympathy derailment memes I see are derived from individuals who are actually working for the people or causes they are trying to defer people’s attention to. That person will never have posted about that place or people before. Instead those “you don’t have a right to feel pity for x if you didn’t feel pity for y, appear like glib children of cynicism – a refuge of anger and fear and sadly the greatest fuel of apathy.