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July 16, 2009

A crisis of compassion? - *

There was a brief news report today about a woman, 4 months pregnant, who made a distress call to police, threatening to harm herself. Police responded, evacuating homes nearby as a precaution. When they were able to enter the home, they found the woman dead of what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. A neighbor was interviewed and said, “For now, we're just hoping to get home, let our dog out, that sort of thing.”

I can’t help but hope that this comment wasn’t the only thought to cross the mind of her neighbor upon learning of her death. But who knows? It appears to me that, in some respects, we’re seeing a dulling of the senses, a numbing of emotion, and a loss of empathy for others. I’ve been mulling over possible reasons for this.

In part, this is likely due to our rapid access to news from all over the world coupled with a taste for the sensational. For no sooner does a tragedy take place than we find ourselves inundated with “Breaking News” banners followed by early reports (often inaccurate or only partially true) followed by the complete story. Next is analysis followed by heart-wrenching interviews with grieving family members. It seems that we face this sort of pathos at least every week or so. Perhaps this constant exposure to disaster depletes our reserves of sympathy. I know there are times when I simply have to turn off the news because I grow weary of misery. (I’m not proud of that, by the way.)

Another possible explanation is the fast-paced lives we live, but I think that’s rather simplistic. We bemoan our busy modern lives, but I have difficulty believing that we’re much busier than people who didn’t have cars and washing machines, self-propelled lawn mowers and supermarkets, ready-made clothing and gas logs.

Perhaps legislation that seems to be increasingly insistent on removing faith from the public eye is another factor. But although we can cite many instances where this has happened, it must be acknowledged that we are not obliged to stop living according to the principles that are a central part of their faith.

I’m sure there are other possible causes for this “crisis of compassion”, but perhaps less time should be spent on seeking the root of the problem and more time spent on finding a remedy.

What are your thoughts?

I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.
- Ezekiel 11:19


  1. You suggest, " . . . but perhaps less time should be spent on seeking the root of the problem and more time spent on finding a remedy."

    I disagree. Unless we get to the root, the bitter fruit will always find fertile soil. Perhaps that is why the Lord said, "Sow with a view to righteousness, reap in accordance with kindness; Break up your fallow ground,for it is time to seek the Lord, until He comes to rain righteousness on you. (Hosea 10:12)

  2. Perhaps this is the result of being the most thorough-going "me" generation in our history.



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