June Journals #17 ~ Loss and Empathy

I try not to engage with the news on this post. It becomes political – always – no matter what you say. So, for the sake of my family, I try and keep my opinions below the radar.

Whether it’s the fact I’m a Liberal Leftie with a Monarchist lean, or that I’m a Bremain with a hope for reform, or that I’m a non-Christian who lives and upholds (most) Christian values. It’s really no-one’s business but mine.

But I can’t write a trite post today. I can’t share pictures of my finished Jester or brag about running nearly 5k or talk about tennis. I just can’t.

There has been so much sadness this year. So much. The mind can’t take it in.

Famous people, icons, people that inspired me, taken too soon by illness.

Right-wing newspapers vilifying people fleeing war and oppression.

A handful of [redacted] so-called football supporters ruining it for the majority.

Gorilla’s dying. Children dying. Decent people ranting and pointing the finger.

Orlando.

I. Just. Can’t.

I have to stop reading the news. I actively avoid it most of the time, because my heart breaks open. I despair for the world my children will inherit.

Instead I gather my news from Facebook.

I watch videos of a man rescuing drowning kittens or a group of boys saving a dog. I look for the positive, humanist stories that keep my faith in humanity.

I hang out with my liberal leftie friends who are all for staying in the EU, who care about the environment and fairness and believe love is love is love. Whose hearts also break at every tragedy and who don’t immediately blame and judge.

I follow Jeremy Corbyn for heaven’s sake. You don’t get much further left.

And then he posts this:

JoCox

I didn’t know who Jo Cox was before today. As I say, I’m not overtly political and I don’t follow the news. But reading this, seeing this picture of the kind of politician I wish we had more of in this country (the world), I felt bereft.

Perhaps because she’s about my age, with two young children and a husband who will mourn her. Children who will ‘grow up without their mum’ (this made me choke). Perhaps it’s the honest goodness she radiates, or that she is everything I wish I could be. Whatever it is, I feel her loss acutely.

Most of all, I am touched that Jeremy Corbyn remembers her first as a person. The comments underneath are not so kind: immediately they are political, immediately they are blaming and hateful, disrespecting the values this woman clearly represents.

I’m sick of it.

I’m sick of the hate and the trolling and the virtuous do-gooders so quick and ready to have – and share – an opinion even if it isn’t appropriate or even valid.

I’m sick of the blame, and the need to be right, and the refusal to even attempt a shred of empathy.

Empathy.

What ever happened to that? One thing my kids have learned from having a mother with depression and an inability to hide her emotions is empathy. I will cherish it, nurture it, encourage it, even if it means they’ll feel pain. At least they’ll feel.

If the world took one second to try not just to see something from another person’s perspective, but actually live and feel their thoughts and emotions, we wouldn’t be so polarised. We wouldn’t be so quick to judge. There is no ‘other’.

A post that sums it up perfectly (but is too long to share in its entirety here) was published by 4BoysMother – Melissa Fenton, Writer on Facebook today, in relation to the boy snatched by an alligator at a Disney Resort. Here’s an excerpt.

4BoysMother

This is what empathy looks like.

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