Monday, August 20, 2007

In theory we are all compassionate

It's interesting how much effort and energy the media put into Terry Schiavo. Oh, yes, I do know she has been dead for a while. But when another similar case comes along the whole debate is going to be warmed up again. It's all in the name of compassion. But, alas, compassion comes so easily when it's anonymous and far away. It's so good to sample it like a piece of confection from a box. We get our emotions up, and then without being any worse for wear--after all it wasn't any close relation--we have had our little mental need for pity and sorrow, and as quickly as it comes, it disappears only to be replaced with the drowning under a bridge miles away or a number of miners in Utah, not to speak of the war in Iraq; it can be pushed out of the way easily in that manner. We have compassion as a program that says enough of that; let's feel sorry for something else now.

Compassion without any real reference to personal involvement makes us all into compassion junkies. Getting a fix for something that should really be a reaction that stimulates the solving of problems that underlie the tragedies. But instead we prefer experiencing them vicariously.

Compassion has become so jaded. I can tell when I speak to the healing professionals about my son Erik. They have spent all their compassion already on a media event, preferably something far away that ideally has a rational explanation. Terry Schiavo was perfect for that. No muss, no fuss, no bother.


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