Closed for Mourning
To what extent, I have been thinking recently, can we feel, understand, and represent the suffering of other people? Is it reasonable to argue that the continuous exposure to images of the atrocity of the war – most notably children – has rendered those atrocities a media spectacle and “Us” a privileged passive audience? Would this prevalent opinion make any difference to the crude ‘reality’ of the conflicts? Or, on the other hand, if we maintain that “We” cannot ever understand those who experience(d) the drama of the war (as the latest Susan Sontag suggested), then, what kind of pacifism is possible?
To try to address some of these issues, I started being interested less in the grand ‘political questions’ and more in the everyday practice of the war, focusing on the daily bodily reactions or adaptations to it.
Raising Yousuf and Noor: Diary of a Palestinian Mother
It is interesting that you write about this during the week of Bryan S. Turner’s post on religion. Turner also writes about “shared vulnerability,” the idea that humans are equally vulnerable to physical harm and thus we can relate to the pain of others (and be moved to prevent harm).
Also, I think that Arjun Appadurai’s ideas about the expansion of imagination due to globalization might help people to imagine pain of others, even those who are distinctively “other,” and sympathize or empathize with their experience.