Concern fatigue: “Somehow this has become routine”

By Nathaniel Smith, Politics: A View from West Chester, October 20, 2015

Syrian refugees are drowning at sea and will soon be dying of cold as they try to make their way across central Europe. Palestinian teenagers are knifing Israelis and being shot down by police and others. Ethiopians are starving while their cows die of thirst. Ninety Americans (including suicides) die from guns every day. Children in Pakistan (and here too) are dying of vaccine-preventable diseases.

Well, whatever, right?

As President Obama said after the Umpqua Community College massacre:

Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine. The conversation in the aftermath of it. We’ve become numb to this.

It’s only human to develop a self-protective tolerance for disasters, especially when they happen to other people. Meanwhile, we are driven crazy by a barking dog across the street, a too-chatty friend, or a mosquito in the bedroom.

Some people are wired to pitch in to help on causes of principle. But most of us focus on what’s around us or what becomes so vivid that we can no longer ignore it.

Actual progress in this country tends to come when a lot of Americans start seeing a problem in a new way….

continue reading at Politics: A View from West Chester

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