Do we have enough tears for this?

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?

Those who do not weep, do not see. ~Victor Hugo  Do we have enough tears for this?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.)

We can’t imagine being a Syrian refugee or a woman in the Congo.  Those people are too different from us; they live so far away.  Things like that don’t happen here.

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?

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12 thoughts on “Do we have enough tears for this?

  1. I have enough tears for them all. Each life weighs equally to one another. At least in G-d’s view they do.

    My dad escaped Nazi Germany, so I know what he, and his family, suffered. Genocides continue, madness continues. Where will this all end? We will never know.

  2. this is something I really struggled with when we moved to Brazil. The first time you really see poverty or injustice on a grand scale, really get close enough to touch it, see it, smell it….it sinks home, deep into you. And then (at least for me), you struggle for a long time weeping over it, feeling the guilt of having won what a friend referred to as “the birth lottery,” being born in a country without those things. I’ve found one has to strike some kind of a balance between carrying, bearing the weight of the injustice of all that is wrong in this world, otherwise it is enough to crush us. I have only begun to figure out how to do that, though.

  3. Your absolutely right about how hard it is to become enraged until it happens here, close to home. There is so much violence it is hard to feel sometimes almost as an insulator to make it through the day. I live in a nice suburb of Chicago and have become almost immune to the daily shootings in Chicago that I hear on the local news night after night, year after year. The bullets go through the homes to innocent children sleeping in their beds.

  4. It seems like we pay attention to the violence that has a more exciting story. The drama of a police chase and of it being on our own soil seems to put everyone into a frenzy. It seems to imply that some lives have for more value than others. I find this to be sad too.

  5. Excellent post! I have tried to remember when my heart cries “why me” to think instead … “why not me?” Just as I haven’t done anything worthy of abuse or tragedy … I’ve done nothing to deserve the abundant blessings with which my life is filled!

  6. My husband and I were just making a similar connection last night. We finished watching a show that centered around another country where the children played soccer by kicking a rolled up t-shirt and then followed it by watching a show about a family who was looking for a $600,000 summer home. My husband said, “What do you think foreigners think of when they watch American shows like this?”

    I said, “That’s why they all want to move to America.”

    We definitely won the birth lottery, and I try never to forget it.

    • House Hunters? I used to watch the international version, but I liked the people who had a budget closer to my own. I can only take so much whining about the lack of closet space or the “need” for marble countertops.

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