I fear that the deluge of catastrophic events, man-made and natural, have inured us to the immense amount of human pain, suffering and deprivation that exists in the world today. The unimaginable has become commonplace: mass beheadings, kidnapping and trafficking of children, wanton rapine by armies, victimization of those hoping for refuge, mass murder of innocent people and natural disasters, earthquakes, floods, pandemics.
When we are overwhelmed by the sheer numbers, often beyond comprehension, our mind may sanitize those numbers and they cease representing suffering human beings and become statistics. A statistic does not have a name or a face. It doesn’t hurt or weep or die.
It is what Pope Francis refers to as “the globalization of indifference.” (Evangelii Gaudium 46) “Almost without being aware of it,” the Holy Father explains, “we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own.” (Evangelii Gaudium 54).
John Donne in his meditation “No man is an island,” grasps the reality of our human connectedness when he reminds us that, “Any man’s death diminishes me.” We can neither escape nor deny our human bond. We are one with each other as Jesus became one with us.
The Gospel is a call to action, not to inertia or apathy, much less to denial. Outrage demands a response, not a retreat.
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