It’s a sunny Tuesday, and I wake up to learn that 3 are dead and more than 100 are injured from bombings at the Boston Marathon.
My morning routine doesn’t change. I get up, brush my teeth, wash my face, get dressed, drink a small bottle of Yakult, and head out.
But things feel different. A thousand miles away, something immensely tragic has happened at an event that was meant to be celebratory. Something exploded, people have had their limbs blown off, a few people including an 8-year-old boy have died.
This in no way affects my daily life. But I’m sad when I get up, and sad when I wash up. I’m sad when I walk out of my house and wave goodbye through the gate to my dog, who sighs and flops down to the ground, not because she is sad about the tragedy but because she has to wait another 10 hours for me to get home.
When I get on the bus, my eyes search for some unknown affirmation. Around me people are playing Candy Crush on their iPhones and Samsungs. The pregnant lady seated opposite me is rubbing her belly, but not in any significant or meaningful way. I’m not quite sure what meaning or significance I’m even looking for. Things feel different, and it feels like they should look like they are, but they don’t. The newspaper has reported that ‘no Singaporeans injured in bombings’, after all – that clear assurance to relax, nobody you know is hurt or affected.
But should you grieve for a tragedy so remote? And how do you go about doing it? What if you do? Is far-flung empathy still empathy, or is it superficial?
And if I’m talking so much about empathy, why was I annoyed when I read two tweets that said ‘#prayforboston’ and ‘I’m crying right now’? Have I attached some barometer of value to empathy and judged others for failing my standards?
sweep it all under the rug, get a really lumpy rug