Roxane Gay has an essay up at The Rumpus about compassion in response to the 2 recent major news events: 1) the bombing in Norway, and 2) the death of Amy Winehouse. It is unmoving in its capacity to move. I hate it so much because of why I love it. I hate it because it calls me on my shit.
It calls me on the fact that when I first heard about the bombing in Norway, I immediately assumed it was likely Al Quaeda or some other Arab/Muslim terrorist group.
It calls me on the fact that Saturday night, I was at a wedding dancing with friends when someone mentioned the death of Amy Winehouse, and I and my friends all commented terribly on how expected it was. I even made a joke referencing High Fidelity when Barry finds out about the death of Laura’s mother: “Oh, drag,” to which my friend followed up by mimicking biting into a burrito. And we laughed. How we laughed at the untimely death of another human being. I feel sick of myself.
So, thank you, Roxane, for how large your heart, and how great your words.
Every day, terrible things happen in the world. Every damn day too many people die or suffer for reasons that defy comprehension. A bomb goes off in a market and thirty men, women, and children are killed. A man walks into a birthday party and kills his ex-wife and all her siblings in front of their child before he kills himself. The water in an African country disappears leaving people starving and thirsty. An epidemic of a disease long-cured by modern medicine sweeps, relentlessly, through an island nation already ravaged by natural disasters. A woman is raped by police officers and those officers are acquitted and she now has to live with the knowledge that she is not safe, not even from law enforcement. A large retailer goes bankrupt putting 10,000 people out of work. Two wars continue to rage unceasingly. And. And. And. And. Every day, terrible things happen in the world. It is overwhelming to try and make sense of any of it, to know how to feel about any of it, to be able to articulate those feelings, to express compassion when there is such a gaping, desperate need for it.