Saturday 26 June 2010

Compassion fatigue

Some months ago I watched an episode of the English language version of Wallander in which one of the characters described compassion fatigue. I was unaware it had been given a name. That's not to say I wasn't moved by events in the news, at that time the earthquake in Haiti, it's more that I was conscious of recognising the signs. I can't remember if this was supposed to be 'normal' but a recent exchange of comments on another blog had me thinking about this again.

My offense was to question whether there was any context in which not knowing a person, for example in another country, should stop one from caring for their predicament. Their response was that I didn't care, that no-one really cares about people far away and I was admonished for being a 'smug twat'; perhaps they were right. Such a robust reply can sometimes curtail rather than encourage debate, but that's a subject for another day; I need to consider what 'care' really means, what it's worth, for the simple reason that sometimes I switch off. I don't imagine I'm alone in this, heartbreak occurs every day, we can't possibly respond to every tragedy but how do we choose those to which we do?


  1. My goodness, can't you ask an EASY question?
    It's questions like this which caused the Bible to be written, I think.

    "Such a robust reply can sometimes curtail rather than encourage debate..."
    I believe people in your part of the World are the undisputed Masters of Understatement. Such fun.