If it’s not happening in the West, it’s not happening

The Huffington post tells us how a “Norway ‘Child Bride’ Causes Outrage As 12-Year-Old’s Wedding Blog Goes Viral” and details the lead up to this caucasian blonde blue-eyed twelve year old’s wedding. The article is well worth a read but it is not the subject of today’s blog. However, it did make me think of a fundamental flaw in our western sensibilities.

Why is it that something only gets real if it happens in the West?

There have always been child brides; there has always been child prostitution and child labour and it’s always wrong but we seem only to get up in arms when that child is white or that child is a resident of District West.  Sure, there are emotive campaigns (particularly around holiday season) and great charities delivery aid and education from the tuppence we give both intellectually and economically. We might even, once or twice, go out and protest about something that really gets up our goat. We feel good about it and then maybe buy a €3 t-shirt on the way home and go back to our real lives – the lives that frankly couldn’t be bothered about what’s happening over there and even for us in Ireland, many decades not caring what was happening a few hours up there.

The same can be said for wholesale attacks on civilians. You know what, if they’re wearing sandals or barefoot and running around in sand well it’ll probably get about as much coverage as the day’s sport. If it happens in Manhattan, in a bastion to western capitalism well then it’s an entirely different situation – it becomes a war on terror because they were working in an office – just like you and me, they had computers, suits and photos of their kids in their stations – just like you and me.  We could identify with them.

Are we only capable of empathy if we identify with the victims?

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