Grisly Arithmetic – ignorance, apathy and humanitarian disaster

starving-children1The Bemolution is staunch in its grouchy belief that the worst thing about civilisation is how sickeningly easy it is for one group of human beings to ignore the abject suffering of another. Horrendously, it’s not just socially acceptable to ignore the suffering of others – determined ignorance is society’s default position.

Bawling about injustice, inequality, poverty and war is a highly adaptable way of committing conversational suicide in an excellent range of social situations. For disastrously many, far-off suffering just doesn’t compute. People are puzzled at the notion they should know or care about humanitarian catastrophe, let alone try and do something about it. We’re conditioned not to criticise the world we find ourselves in beyond impotently grumbling, and we shrink from anything too bleak or upsetting that might make us question the way things are.

Given what goes on on our planet, this is very bad. It’s this blog’s position that a less horrific world, if it ever arrives, isn’t just going to be about dry economics. Bypassing our ingrained individual selfishness would require nothing less than a grand, socialism-enabling ethical overhaul – more specifically, a major compassion transfusion.

And thus, to further its pseudo-Buddhist fixation with suffering, the Bemolution is going to start a new item on the reasons why the world needs to shoved, firmly, in a less humanly disastrous direction.

Crudely, it’s going to have a go at roughly working out just how many members of our species have died unnecessarily over the previous 30 days or so, and how many are wobbling on the brink. It will try and highlight particularly grotesque humanitarian crises in an effort to spread the word. And it will spend considerable time moping about the horror of it all.

Forcing yourself to dwell on the suffering of others, no matter how personally unpleasant that might be for you as an individual, is a most vigorous way of exercising your empathy muscles. Buddhists have been doing it for over a thousand years.

Trying to comprehend the anguish of other people, and imagining yourself and those you like in those same terrible situations, is a way of training yourself to be more compassionate – and, on the side, of battering down the daft cultural barriers that mean we don’t see far-flung suffering as our concern, and only show basic human decency within driving distance, if that.

And now, to end, the Bemolutionary theme tune.