When did I become so Desensitized?

It is truly amazing to me that so little is being said or broadcast in the news & social media regarding Orlando.   In the past few weeks I have been overwhelmed with conversation/arguments online about gorilla cages, parent responsibilities and the behaviors of an intact male gorillas versus female gorillas.  Then it was the weeks of arguments for sentencing of first time sexual assault offenders, culpability of intoxicated victims and inappropriateness of tweets.   I got so fed up with the contents of my Facebook newsfeed, I stayed offline for a few days.  

I overheard the news of the shooting in Orlando where over 50 people died when I was in line for coffee.  At the time, I was scrolling through my newsfeed on Facebook and had not seen mention of any tragedy.  I actually interrupted the stranger’s conversation and awkwardly asked “What happened in Orlando?”

At first, I was shocked and saddened for the victims, but those feelings quickly subsided by the time my coffee arrived and my Sunday proceeded as scheduled.

My day was completely ruined when the barista put too much steamed milk in my coffee, then suddenly the weather turned.  The clouds rolled in, the sun gave way to a misty rain.  It was uncomfortably cold pedaling my bike home from Starbucks.  Hate that.  I spent the rest of the day dredging through chores, housework, barn work and preparing for my work week.  I was so busy running through life and my to-do list, I didn’t have a single thought of the Orlando victims.

At night in bed, scrolling through my newsfeed (after several scrolls down), I saw a one single post ‘Orlando Strong.’  Oh right – People died in Orlando.  How could I have forgotten that all day?  I felt terrible, selfish and in-human.  But then I realized, I am not alone – many people forgot today because it’s just become yet another unexplainable, senseless tragedy.  Sadly these tragedies have become so common we are now just re-branding the slogan ‘Boston Strong,’ ‘France Strong’ and now ‘Orlando Strong.’

I expect over the next few days, we will all continue to argue about gun control.  Orlando victims and residents will cling together through this tragedy and grow strong like Boston did.  But it’s both shocking and sad that I didn’t care more yesterday.  When 50 people died, my day continued on as normal.  WTF?  When did that happen?   I remember being glued to the television through 9/11, then again for Aurora Shootings, Sandy Hook, and even more recently France.  I remember the pit in my stomach and compassion I felt for the victims and their families.

I really hope being desensitized to this tragedy is just me.  I sincerely hope I am the only awful person whose life was not interrupted yesterday in light of such a horrific tragedy.  Can I clutch to the excuse that I rescue horses, fight for horse causes and leave the fight for human suffering for others?

We all have a cause that we care about, fight for and never get desensitized to.  Could it be possible that my compassion toward equine suffering has desensitized my heart to human suffering?  Or should the human heart be wired to house enough compassion for all?  I don’t know the answers – I am not that smart and am obviously flawed.


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4 Responses to When did I become so Desensitized?

  1. Anne says:

    Dear Janine I do not fault you (or us) in our hearts knowing enough to make it’s fable attempts to secure a tentative grasp on sanity. For to feel as much pain and suffering we inflict upon each other. It is only by somers distanceingredients our souls from the darkness my our own lights continge to prevail.

  2. CP Ellen says:

    Janine, it took courage to post this. I often question whether my compassion for animals exceeds that for humans. I started early; watching movies at age 6 I cried if a horse fell while cowboys were being gunned down.
    The answer is yes – our hearts are wired to feel compassion for all beings. Somehow in the coffee line perhaps you blocked the horrific news; was it just too much to process at that moment and you did not want to let it in? What if you read that 50 horses had been slaughtered by an assault rifle? My rage and hurt would have been the same. Is that OK? For us the answer is yes. In that moment it is shock and disbelief. What comes later is what matters. Mourning has a timetable. Everyone’s is different.

  3. Bert Owens says:

    I agree with your dismay. For me, this shooting is almost too hard to bear. We must look away for now. We cannot help these poor people. We cannot seem to beat the NRA, or the people that hate. Our Senators and Representatives fight for us to their abilities. To watch these people in their personal agony seems too intrusive. To understand the unfathomable seems beyond us. I despair, truly, over this latest incident. After learning the bare facts, I find no comfort in knowing the details. I am not sure social media can help.

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