Today on my daily commute to and from work I read two articles (Education and Darfur) in this month's Utne Reader that prompted a fair amount of introspection about the nature of compassion in our current society. In the article about Darfur the author was asking why we are so indifferent to the crisis in Darfur given that we are inundated with horrific images that demand our action.
The question is obviously rhetorical. We are indifferent because we are overwhelmed. There are too many crisis', too many people in need, that the individual no longer knows where to start, what to invest time, action, energy, or money into. I don't think that people care less, rather they are overrun by too many problems that they are paralyzed into inaction and apathy.
So while the teacher discussed in the education article is right in saying that what we need in the world is more compassion, I also think that maybe that individuals need to pick a cause or two and focus on them. This doesn't mean that I think that we should only learn about those causes we've invested in, but rather that we should realize that one person can make a difference if they focus their energies on making it happen.
The education article went on to discuss how specific communities invested in making a change (in the 60s) and made things happen, whereas now that hasn't happened. Bear in mind that the article is focusing on a specific incident and that I am extrapolating rather loosely. However, the point is that my metro ruminations left me with the feeling that perhaps our parents moved mountains more because they only saw one or 2 mountains that needed moving. Obviously there were many issues at hand during the 60s, but the amount of information and media bombardment wasn't anywhere near what it is today. I wonder if the media isn't doing us a grave disservice by blasting us with so much, so quickly, and then moving on. Maybe this is the downfall of the global village. The great irony is that for all that the media and global village allow access to one another, they cause us to lose touch with each other.
Yes the world needs more compassion, but where should we be directing our compassion? The well is only so deep.