April 16, 2004

A young minister, giving his first ever sermon, was thrilled to see an elderly woman in one of the front pews looking completely enthralled by his every word. Caught on fire by her attention, he thundered and he whispered, and the elderly woman watched him, smiling. Then he hit the end of the sermon ... and she replaced the battery into her hearing aid.

I can't write about what is happening in Iraq anymore. I can't write about Palestine/Israel. I can't write about Somalia, or Rwanda, or Chad. I can't write about Chechnya, or the Balkans.

There are others who can describe. There are others who can report. I leave it to them.

For me, so much of what is happening goes beyond words.

But unless you happen to live in a "front page" place, unless your life has been in some way directly touched, it is meaningless, a matter of electronic pixels if that. Not a matter for the here and now. Not in the least comparable to your day's frustration when the coffee shop happened not to have your immediate craving in stock, or when your latest lie-of-an-excuse for just not having bothered collapses.

Were we always like this? Was it just the scale that was different? But if not: at what point did we just stop caring?

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