Monday, December 15, 2014

Multi-tasking Empathy?

Australia is going through a difficult situation today as a self-described sheik/lunatic has taken hostages.  There is something positive going on: a movement with the hashtag #illridewithyou.  The idea is that Aussies are calling out to those who wear religious garb and saying that if you are worried or concerned that you might get some backlash, that they would join that person's commute.

This makes a great deal of sense since events like these bring out the bigots--who tend to be ignorant, of course.  In the aftermath of 9/11, I remember a Sikh (not a Muslim) who got attacked because some ignorant bigot attacked.  As Australia already has a problem with anti-immigrant fear/hate/xenophobia, it is likely that some yahoo will attack a Muslim or a Sikh or some other Other.  So, this is really the perfect time for this spontaneously generated movement.

One of my twitter followers disagrees, arguing that people should be caring about the hostages who are still in crisis.  My response: does this person have a spouse and a kid or two kids?  Because I am pretty sure you can care about two or more things at once.  And people should care both about the people who are in harm's way and the people who are in harm's way: the hostages and those who share some identities with the perpetrator.  Our hearts are big enough, right?

No comments: