On Haiti and emotional apathy



"But though natural likings should normally be encouraged, it would be quite wrong to think that the way to become charitable is to sit trying to manufacture affectionate feelings....The rule for all of us is perfectly simple. Do not waste time bothering whether you "love" your neighbour; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.
-C.S. Lewis
Mere Christianity

I think this works for the question of how to care about distant tragedies. Maybe it helps you to alter the quote thusly:

"But though natural [compassion] should normally be encouraged, it would be quite wrong to think that the way to become charitable is to sit trying to manufacture [compassionate] feelings....The rule for all of us is perfectly simple. Do not waste time bothering whether you ["care" about Haiti]; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you [cared about something], you will presently come to [care about it]."

It doesn't matter whether the present suffering of Haiti's people has had a great emotional impact on you or not. That's not something you need to exert yourself trying to control. But if you think it's worth caring about, act in accordance.

Incidentally:
How you can help with Haiti earthquake relief efforts via PayPal & eBay

And even:
Click to donate to relief efforts in Haiti at no cost to yourself

12 comments:

Summermoon 1/19/2010 2:21 AM  

Thank you for these thoughts. They helped a lot.

phampants 1/19/2010 7:46 AM  

I'm glad others feel the same way about Haiti like myself

Edge 1/19/2010 8:27 AM  

Lewis ftw.

cuileann 1/19/2010 10:22 AM  

Summermoon - Yes? Good. The quote was tickling my thoughts, and I thought it might be meaningful to someone else in this context too.

phampants - Yes.

Edge - Heh. We ARE Christian college students.

Erin 1/19/2010 11:28 AM  

You are so smart.
Thank you for this post.

Em 1/19/2010 12:30 PM  

Thank you for this. It articulates and makes sense of my feelings.

Hey, but what happened to Jeanima?

Priya 1/19/2010 1:02 PM  

Thanks for the links and the quotes.

I was going to ask about Jeanima too... do you know if she's ok?

cuileann 1/19/2010 1:43 PM  

Erin, Em, and Priya - You are welcome much, of course.

I have not heard about Jeanima yet. From what I remember from the 2004 tsunami, Compassion always writes to sponsors of children in areas hit by natural disasters to let them know if their child is okay. I will let you know as soon as I do hear. What I do know is that she lives a ways away from the epicenter of the quake--north of Port-au-Prince. And that bodes better for her.

Anna 1/27/2010 2:00 PM  

This is wonderful.

cuileann 1/27/2010 2:37 PM  

Anna - I am glad you think so, my love.

Stephanie 2/07/2010 2:37 AM  

Good girl. Good. I like you. I like. (This makes me miss our NK group!)

cuileann 2/07/2010 11:21 AM  

Stephanie - Thankss. :) (Dude, I know. Whenever someone mentions Kilby House, I think about it.)

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