Do we need to be able to identify with the victims of violence in order to sympathize with them?
There is so much violence in the world. Every day. Are the deaths of children in New England more tragic than the deaths of children in Africa?
Do you know how many people died in in the violence surrounding the elections in Venezuela on Monday? What about the ones who died in Iraq’s election violence? Is election violence too alien a concept? We can’t imagine it happening here.
Is the same true for genocide? We can’t imagine our government turning on Christians or Muslims as Myanmar has done.
(Unless one can imagine it, and is therefore a paranoid extremist.)
What about Chicago, where over 500 people were murdered last year? No, we tell ourselves that those are gang members, not nice people like us.
We do everything we can to distance ourselves from the victims of crimes, even the ones that happen close to home. That couldn’t happen to us because we don’t walk those streets, dress like that, drink too much…..we’re careful, safe, make good decisions.
We’ve insulated ourselves so successfully that we barely register the distress of millions. Until, one day, we learn that someone like us has been hurt. Now we are glued to the news. This can’t happen to me. To my kids. Here. To people like us.
But it does. Sometimes, it does.
Could we take part of that outrage and share it with the world? Do we have enough tears to cry for Asian children and African women? Can we cry for the persecuted when they don’t share our religion?
If we can’t, what does that say about us? About me?
If we can, would we ever be able to stop crying?