Tuesday, September 13, 2011
How to Be Caring and Sensitive
Often I hear people refer to certain individuals as caring and sensitive people. What they mean is that if those individuals happen to see something a bit uncomfortable, they get teary-eyed. Or that those individuals are the ones who worry about whether or not someone is able to afford a meal at a nice restaurant or whether or not they've provided enough pillows or blankets for their overnight guests.
I'm often surprised that these same people, when confronted with the atrocities of the world, say, "Oh, it's too hard; I don't want to know about it." These are the very people who need to know about it as they would be the ones most likely to take steps to do something about it.
Although I am a gentle vegetarian and I don't confront people over the issue nor do I expect others to follow in my path, I am appalled by the response of caring and sensitive people when the topic is discussed. On the occasions when I am actually asked the reasons I am a vegetarian or when people share myths they've heard about vegetarianism, I try to clarify and educate. I tell people that one of the reasons I am a vegetarian is because of the way factory farms torture the animals. In most instances, people whom I consider caring and sensitive immediately respond, "Oh, don't tell me about it. I don't want to know. I can't give up meat." What they're saying is that if they knew the truth, they would have to make that sacrifice.
When talking about 9/11 and the aftermath, I rarely hear any discussion about the innocent children in Iraq and Afghanistan who have been maimed and killed. Bringing it up among caring and sensitive people turns me into a social pariah. They don't mind talking about the brave American firefighters and other emergency personnel who gave their lives to help others, probably because that is over and done with. There is no ongoing ugliness to deal with. It is easier to commemorate the fallen and departed than to confront the grim realities of people "over there."
We need caring and sensitive people who are caring and sensitive about serious issues. While it is nice to be hospitable to one's neighbors, there are far greater needs in the world than the comfort of friends. Caring and sensitive people need to see photographs of maimed and wounded children and videos of cows, chickens, and pigs as they are inhumanely treated in the factory farms. Yes, these things are hard to view, but refusing to look at these images means not being moved to tears to do something. And this is how atrocities continue to occur - people don't want to know. People with sensitivities need to put that very disposition to use effect change in the world however difficult it may be.
(Photo source: http://www.womensviewsonnews.org/2011/02/report-finds-iraqi-women-and-children-victims-in-dirty-war/)