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Every time you look away you lose another bit of your compassion

Compassion is not, I believe, a hindrance in moral decision making. In fact I think it is crucial even, and lack thereof inevitably leads to flawed decisions. And it is not just about political decision making, but also about everyday life.

However, I also think that losing compassion is one of the many methods of the human psyche to cope with the brutalities of reality, which is why many soldiers, cops, firemen and ambulance staff end up with some pretty rough humor and in some cases a distinct distancing from the people they attend to.

Politicians and other decision makers often go down a similar route, but I think for very different reasons, more to do with personal comfort. And many “civilians” go down the same route. Which leads to no one but a rare few checking up on that homeless person lying on the ground in near subzero temperatures.

To be clear, I am not taking any moral highground here. I do this too. It is impossible to care all the time, but it is also easy to take the easy way out.

And I find it striking how insensitivized we unknowingly are and how different it can be. I remember watching a documentary, some years ago, showing a travelling bus cinema where the owner travelled between rural villages in India to show Bollywood action movies, and in recluse villages people were actually completely shocked and very naseous from the fairly “harmless” violence on display; the odd fist fights, some shooting, but no blood or bruising and mixed with dancing and singing. These people were completely unexposed to violence and had never seen any, nor any movies. And they felt assaulted, with the majority leaving mid-movie. It was pretty disturbing in many ways.