Compassion fatigue is not a new thing but there are more demands on our capacity for compassion than ever.
It’s easy to shrug off the needs of the world. . . for some people. “Not my problem.” “They must have made poor choices.”
For other people, The Meaning of Life involves addressing the needs of the world. Some of us who claim Jesus as Savior even believe that following Jesus = expanding the reign of God on earth as it is in heaven. There is no shrugging.
And then there are people in between the two extremes.
I’m beginning to believe that the cultural/political/social divides in our country have something to do with shrugging.
This is a conversation I had recently:
Me: It’s even harder to be a Muslim person in this country now than it was a generation ago. ____ was walking down the street over the summer and someone threw a bottle at her and yelled for her to “Go back to Arabia.”
(She’s from Pakistan.)
Christian Friend who also knows her: (silence)
Me: I mean she was going to the office and they threw a glass bottle at her head. It really shook her up.
CF: (not a word)
What I wish he’d said:
“I had no idea it was still so hard for people with brown skin to feel safe in this neighborhood.”
“What can I do to support her?”
“Thanks for letting me know. I’ll give her a call.”
When friends, family members, co-workers, neighbors talk about the treatment of People of Color or the poor or the unemployed or the mentally ill, it shows compassion to at least act as if we care. How can people hear real life stories about the disenfranchised and not respond?
I’ve thought for a long time that part of our nation’s divide – especially among Christians – involves what we believers focus on in our relationship with God. Simplistically speaking, there are believers whose chief concern is personal salvation. I have a friend who believes that his #1 calling is to raise a family of believers who will go to heaven because of their personal piety. And I know others who believe that their #1 calling is to serve God by serving those in need. Again, this is a simplistic divide, but it indeed divides us.
Thoughts? Are we separated by shrugs?
Image of Jon Hamm from Mad Men.