I have been keeping abreast (as much as my poor heart can take it) of the horrific events in and around Syria. The photograph of the drowned little boy shocked me just like it did many others; the outcry following it made me initially quite happy; perhaps his sacrifice would mean that others wouldn’t have to follow suit.
But as I read article after article, post after post, tweet after tweet, another feeling kicked in: discomfort. The cries for governments to do more, to open borders, to take in refugees, to not be beset by prejudices and remember that most of these are innocent victims underserving of the label “terrorist”—for some kind of reason, they all bothered me.
And as you can imagine, it bothered me that it bothered me (bother-ception?) Had I become an individual so indifferent to the suffering of others that cries to help them bothered me?
Thankfully not; it took me a little time, but I finally realised that the reason for it is quite the contrary. It’s the lack of coherence between what we want our leaders to do on our behalf and what we do on a day to day basis that bothers me.
For example, how many of us who are pushing our governments to be more open and generous towards the refugees from Syria are practicing these virtues at the grassroots on a daily basis? While their suffering isn’t at the same scale, there are people in every city and town in North America who are suffering from a lack of daily necessities; there are even more who are lacking in warmth, care, and companionship. Are we reaching out to these people? And if not, can we blame our leaders for taking their cue from us and applying similar patterns of behavior at a macro level?
But perhaps if our calls to our governments were matched by equally as strong commitment and action to changing the patterns of behaviours at the micro level, we would be able to show rather than only tell our leaders what kind of world we want to live in: one in which we help each other to alleviate suffering, even the most basic one, not waiting for it to reach calamitous levels before wanting to act.
Picture courtesy of Death to the Stock Photo.
First published on Sahar’s Blog on 15 September 2015