To be unusually concerned about one’s immediate environment is natural. If a school bus crashes in Manhattan and 22 children are killed, I will be distraught. And I will be more distraught than I would be about the same type of event taking place at a distance.
But I am profoundly uncomfortable with this pervasive “parochial compassion.” In a globally connected world, with so many of us frequently crossing boundaries , living in countries in which we were not born, and with so many unintended consequences flowing from events far away, we desperately need to nurture the ability to care about people in distant and unfamiliar places.
So obvious. So simple. Sunday school stuff. So why is it so hard to extend our “terrain of grief” to places that lie at the margins of our mental map?
This is, after all, a time when my New Jersey neighbor might be from Nepal. Some of my students are from Nepal. My son may be travelling to Nepal. Grief as a parochial practice just won’t fly anymore.
I am trying to reach. We need to reach. We are human beings.
Why doesn’t it come easier?