It’s wired into all of us, the capability to demonstrate sympathy for those who have suffered misfortune and loss. It’s in our DNA. Some have just suppressed the emotional stimulus of sympathy for others for so long, their “sympathy” seems re-routed to include only themselves. Case in point, what would possess dozens of looters in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and other cities to break into stores in these evacuated towns and just take whatever they want? A complete abandonment of moral thought and sympathy for their fellow man. There is no other explanation. The darkness invading the minds of men have increased lawlessness, and their hearts have grown cold… just as Jesus said they would. (Matthew 24:12)
But it’s hard isn’t it? To be so bombarded with tragedy in the news week after week and not become a little de-sensitized to the present crisis. It’s clear that those who’ve lost their homes and possessions in the fires in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana are just as devastated as those affected by Harvey and Irma. But we’ve lost sight of them, because we focus on what is right in front of us at the time. Right now it’s Irma and the southern United States. Most of us haven’t given more than a second thought to the folks to our south affected by an earthquake in Mexico.
Sometimes it’s not even about focus, sometimes it’s about remembering. Today is a good example. Today is September 11, 2017. 16 years ago our lives we’re changed forever. We watched in horror as thousands of lives were lost when the twin towers came crashing into the earth in rubble. Terrorism became real for everyone around the world in an instant, and it hasn’t let up since. Here’s a question for you though. I wonder how many people in the world today would even have thoughts of this tragedy, or those who were lost, except that a commemorative event was planned, specifically so that we don’t forget?
Too often it is all too true: out of sight, out of mind… and out of our memory.
I’m convinced some folks have the spiritual gift of sympathy. It seems they have an unlimited supply, and regardless of how many tragedies occur, they are instantly capable of recognizing needs and organizing aid. I recognize this as a special gift from God, because while I’m not unfeeling or uncaring, I find myself stretched these days to have enough sympathy to go around. I would like to think I’m a kind man, who cares, who demonstrates compassion, and will commiserate with those in need.
Yet, when in the ensuing chaos of one tragedy, after another, after another, in a seemingly endless list of tragedies, both my heart and my mind become numb. I end up asking myself, “How can our world survive much more?” Then I think about those in the crisis itself, while I watch the incessant video streams of death, damage, looting; it’s hard to balance all that with the fewer stories of strong willed people who drive from another state to demonstrate their sympathy in tangible ways.
Perhaps the answer is simple: pick a battle, don’t try to win the war on your own.
By becoming pro-active and choosing a place where you personally want to go, help and make a difference in the recovery process, you set aside those paralyzing thoughts and in action begin to make a real difference to those who do need our sympathy. Sympathy won’t cut it though, if that’s all we have. We must act.
And you can’t get bogged down by whatever else might be coming our way in the next few weeks or months. Just focus on the choice you made, the people or group you’ve decided to support and keep on. Pray for all the others certainly, this is something we all can do. But engage somewhere. Demonstrate your own kind compassion and sympathetic commiserations by actually doing something to help someone in the middle of these tragic days of misery and loss.
It’s not just about sympathy. It’s also about action.
Jesus also said, [John 13:34]
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
Daily Post: Sympathy
If you liked this blog post feel free to share it with your friends. I’d love to hear your thoughts.