Apparently, being outraged, saddened, angry over events in Boston somehow implies a lack of compassion, frustration over the almost daily bombings in the middle east or elsewhere in the world.
Yes, people are dying every day, some through horribly violent means and yes, those things are equally and often times, more tragic than events surrounding the Boston Marathon. I get it. And if I didn’t, a quick online check and social media would assault (yes, that image is intentional) me with loud (posts can be loud), aggressive, almost condescending messages making sure I got it.
I believe that love and compassion are not exhaustible resources and that my capacity to care for victims of tragedy is not limited by proximity. That said, my connection to the Boston area, to runners, to Americans in general is much stronger than my connection to (let’s face facts here, this is the case) abstract individuals a world away. They cannot be anything but abstract when their existence is mediated by video images, news headlines, words on a page. My sadness and outrage are tempered by distance and connection. I feel sadness over tragic events and wish they could somehow be prevented. I mourn the loss of life, but that mourning is different. This may sound callous, but it is human nature to have more sympathy, more sorrow and more pain when tragedy strikes closer to home.
I guess it is possible for someone to have equal empathy, no matter of connection or proximity, but I question the sincerity of it. The more I learn, the larger I make my circle of connection, might allow me feel similar events with equal distress. It is certainly the case that my feelings over 9/11 were greatly changed by visiting the site, meeting more New Yorkers, but this only confirms a premise-We care most about those closest to us.
Being dismissive of the emotional responses to an event, because people don’t seem to feel the same about other similar events, aren’t as outraged as they “should” be, smacks of arrogance, an imagined superiority. I can’t get behind it, or ignore it.