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The Great Disconnect

Today something terrible happened.  27 people were killed in a shooting at a public school.  This is awful.  It's horrible.  It's mortifying.  There is no reason for it.  And all of the responses that people have been giving on Facebook help me see that people have not altogether lost their humanity.

"Awful news today. What else can be said? It's a nightmare."
"mortified and very angry"
"I cant even begin to imagine what those parents are going thru...and I hope I never have to..."
"I am sad and disgusted. My heart is hurting for the family's in CT."
"Just when I'm feeling slightly better from my cold, I am emotionally ill. May God bless us all with peace in our hearts at such tragic news. :-/ Especially those for whom life will never be the same."

It is good to see people caring.  It's good to see people expressing empathy for those affected--for the family members of those who have been killed, for all of the many many lives that have now been affected by this horrible event.  (I also think it's rather silly that so many people are saying they now want to home school their children.  Why not solve the problem instead of running from it? But that's another rant for another day.)

My question is why don't we see this more often?  Imagine what kind of world we would have if every time someone was killed, people felt this way.  Imagine how much more peaceful our society would be if everyone felt this way.  What I don't understand is why people feel such a tiny amount of empathy for others.

Where is the empathy for children who starve to death in developing countries?  Where is the empathy for the soldiers who die in armed conflicts over things as meaningless as fossil fuels and whose god is real?  What about the families of the people who died today in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Gaza?  What about the parents of the children we have killed with our drones?  Where is the compassion for the crack addict whose baby has little chance of surviving and a sure chance of being addicted to crack as well if he does survive?  Where has our humanity gone?  Why do we not react this way when we see people dying all around us?

You might say that you do feel that pain.  You do feel that empathy.  And maybe you do.  But, do you do anything about it?  Do you say anything about it?  Does your empathy result in anything to help heal those who have been harmed?  One person kills 26 other people and either kills himself or is killed by someone else, and you post about how horrible that is.  And it is horrible.  The fact that you feel horrible is a very good thing.  100,000 people die in the Iraq War.  Do you post about it?  Do you talk about how sorry you are for the families of those (Americans and Iraqis, and those of all nationalities who have died) who died?  If you feel just as empathetic about these deaths as you do about the ones from today in Connecticut, that means you would post roughly 4,000 times about the Iraq War.  Did you?  Did you post about it at all?  Do you feel the same sadness and pain when you hear about 100,000 people dying as you do when you hear about two dozen people dying?

Let us learn from these events.  Let us do something about this empathy.  Let us build a better, more peaceful future.  Let us stop killing each other.  Let us end our armed conflicts in the Middle East.  Let us stop pretending that we are keeping peace by killing thousands of people.  Let us actually build peace.  Real peace.  The kind where people don't kill other people.  Let us always be this mortified by murder.  Let us always feel this saddened by the loss of a life.  Not just when it's children in a school in our own country.  Not just when it's one crazy man doing the shooting.  But always.  Let us remember that all life has equal right to be here and to share this planet with us.

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