We wake up. We gobble the latest news for breakfast. We see reports about horrors and atrocities. We read, we see and we hear. We understand the situation. We realize that we should care. And we do care. We talk about it at work. At parties. Around the dinner table. We confirm each other’s thoughts. We confirm to each other that we are keeping track of what’s going on. That we are up to date. That we are responsible people who understand that what’s going on is wrong, and that there are things happening in this world which is not good. We understand that people need help. We walk out on the street. We walk past everyone who needs help. Avoid all the people who are asking us to help. We are on our way, and we don’t have time for this now.
We get home. We have arrived. We have time. We write statuses about our concerns for those whose lives are not as good as ours. We show everybody that we care. We share news. We entertain each other. We gulp up someone else’s already edited version of reality and exclaim: «this is happening now!». But it is not happening now. It already happened, and no matter how much we want to help, it is already too late for the people we are talking about. But the people in the news report is not all there is to it. It is about the situation. It is about a lot of people. And the situation is changing. It is different than it was yesterday. New things have come up. New facts have been presented. Contradictory facts. We understand that the situation is not as black and white as everyone we first thought it to be. So we have to talk more. Dig a little deeper. We have to understand more. We can’t just put all the blame on one side. It is more complicated than that.
How much is our compassion really worth? Is it measured in money? Likes? Does all the tragedy in the world only exist so that we who are living on the other side of the news can feel a little better when we have someone to feel bad about? Maybe we can’t help. Maybe we don’t want to help. It is better when the problem is at an arm’s distance. Then we can talk about it without really having to engage. Most of us have read so many news that our containers for horrors and misery should have exploded a long time ago. But nothing is happening. We are not helping, not really. We are just getting better at understanding what the situation is, how it came about, and what should be done. What should have been done. It doesn’t really seem like there is a proportional relation between knowledge and compassion. But the relation between knowledge and criticizing people who do not possess as much knowledge seems striking. Self-exaltation disguised as compassion. Oh my…
The ones who need our help do not need contemplation. We are in a position in which we can help – always. Over 2000 years ago a man asked us not to kill. We can all agree on that. Still we pay someone else to do exactly that. I also think we can agree on that «thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself», but still we exercise less compassion towards the beggar outside our door than a persons on a picture in a news report. We understand that our consumption has consequences for the environment, but keep putting our own self-interest first. We read news and chronicles. We read retorts and comments. We comment ourselves. We write chronicles ourselves. We are taking part. We read, see and listen. We realize that it is not so easy. We go to bed.