Exercising compassion in tragic circumstances
To the Editor,
I write this with a heavy heart and a sense of responsibility to be a voice of kindness during such a difficult week for many people of Haliburton County.
My little neck of the woods is surrounded by glistening lakes, regal and abundant trees, wildlife galore and a quiet, rural tourist/cottage community that prides itself on being a destination for those seeking beauty in all manners of living.
Today we suffered a tragic blow that was most likely caused by the intersecting fragility of a global pandemic and mental illness and marginalization. Our community bore witness to alleged assault, vehicular assault and our first responders protected us in ways that they hoped would never happen, which ended in a fatality. I am reading and hearing that this resident’s breakdown was caused by being asked to wear a mask at one of our local grocery stores. I have read victim shaming, police shaming, and “cottager” blaming on multiple feeds.
It is this divisiveness of language and separation of the other, caused by fear and compartmentalized by online bystander/keyboard warriors that perpetuates and breeds “otherness.”
And when we can put someone in an “other” category, we strip them of their humanity and our moral responsibility to be compassionate. To be compassionate seems a difficult thing to do during these extremely trying days of pandemic management. Our collective cognitive dissonance on what we believe to be true and right differs only between one line – compassion or fear-based judgement.
And as I sit here, I am drawn toward the reasons why we dissolve our compassion so readily when we ourselves are already in a place of fear or discomfort. Unfortunately all I can do with these thoughts is feel deeply saddened and compassionate towards all of us – the victims, the deceased individual who made fear-based choices from a potentially mentally ill and fatigued mind, our first responders who had to make choices that resulted in a fatal outcome, and to everyone who is feeling scared, sad, overwhelmed and anxious tonight because they feel this madness in our world. Sending love and light.