Why We Shouldn’t Feel Bad

By Harriet, Editor-at-Large
“Isn’t it terrible what happened to the Malaysian Airlines flight, getting shot down like that,” said a friend who had visited me, “It just tears me up inside to think of all those killed.”

I’ve thought about that comment a lot, especially as every news cast for the past week has been about the horror of it all, repeated ad nauseam. My friend’s suggestion that we should all be equally upset by the deaths of innocent people is a mirror of what is in the media. Its as though we should all be distressed and that that shows caring and empathy in the community.

While I was initially horrified by it and I am sorry for anyone who has lost loved ones, it is no different to the carnage on our roads. We lose the number of Australians who died in the air crash every few weeks. That is terrible too, for the families affected, and the cost to the country of managing those deaths.

It is also no different to those who die and are dying in many ways. Those deaths are terrible also.

But just as I don’t dwell on other deaths, neither will I dwell on the deaths of MH17. Basically, if it (an event) is outside my sphere of influence it is not worth my emotional energy focussing on it, or even spending any more time than being aware of what is happening. To do otherwise, I believe, is pathological.

Why should it be socially appropriate to suffer agonies when it doesn’t directly impact upon me? I don’t think it shows anything good socially to go around bewailing the fates of what has happened, nor to empathetically feel their pain. There are some whose job it is to bear witness to the sufferings of others, such as doctors, professional cleaner-uppers of horrible messes, and the news crews, but even they should be those who can bear witness without having a break down over it all. For those not directly affected it is masochistic to want to suffer just because some people are and sadistic to think it is socially appropriate that others should do so. It is my understanding that neither of these are nice characteristics to be encouraged.

What do you think?

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