The journalist and Middle East-specialist, who has been an advocate for taking action for Syria since the very beginning, Anders Jerichow, said something very thought-provoking the other day:
- Have we lost our sense of empathy?
By "we" he meant the old democracies and not least the level of debate within Denmark itself. Are we feeling so safe that we have forgotten to take an interest in those, who are in trouble?
Empathy as the ability to transgress one's own mental boundaries, creating the possibility of a common ground for understanding. Previous generations have passed on the insight of worse times, ensuring a memory living on, even when not directly experienced. But the remembrance of it disappears when it is no longer felt necessary.
The family of my paternal grandfather firmly believed that every second generation would lose their lives on the battlefield forcing the next generation to start all over again. Only in turn to see their children lose their lives in the next war. They were French-Alsatians and lived in the European version of the Middle East-conflict.
It made a strong impact on me when my Uncle told me how my great-great-great-grandmother was among the women struggling across the battlefield after the French-German war in 1870/71 looking for their men, hoping in a way not to find them among the fallen. The women themselves were starving, looking for anything to eat, with the rotting horses right in front of them. Only that in itself posed a danger to them. Being allowed to eat horse-meat or refraining from it would expose immediately to the other women, which side they were on.
We would not wish this for anyone, but if being in a safe place has left us unable to take part even in mind on the situation of others, then we have lost, not gained. The Iranian exiled cartoonist Mana Neyestani has reflected this through the archetype of suffering. Anyone who has witnessed a loved and dear one fight for his or her life recognize the strength, the anger and the will to survive, and the ultimate pain of it not being possible:
|Mana Neyestani: The Gospel According to Facebook, |
March 17, 2014.