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Hey Manal, ur right of course that there are factors that affect our degree of empathy. The empathy that happens instinctively. Maybe what I am getting at (this is something I have been thinking of for about a year now) is developing (maybe thru education) a mindful, intentional empathy. The one that does not come naturally. Meaning: I believe if we remove a lot of context and tell a story in the abstract, and are told to put ourselves in the shoes of the parents of any of the kids who died in any of these incidents, we’d be able to do it. We’d feel it. It’s all the other factors that cloud our feelings. That said, context and history are essential to truly understanding (even if that understanding is partial) the suffering of others, because all incidents are not equal. Still, yes, I think it’s always more of a universally-acknowledged tragedy when kids are killed because we know they’ve done nothing to “deserve” it, they’re dying for someone else’s sins/mistakes/risks.
That all said, the whole proximity thing is problematic for Egyptians towards Palestinians and it kills me to hear how some ppl talk about that situation, where self-interest suppresses empathy towards someone you should technically be able to empathize with more than others – someone who is ur neighbor, speaks ur language, has ur religion, etc., has shared history and culture (Gaza especially) and then to not empathize when it’s supposedly easier to empathize than with others…
The story of ur friend and distance is important but it’s not (in my mind) about empathy: it’s about security, and of course proximity matters there.