Anyone in the medical field knows a little something about this one.
Likewise anyone who is a first responder, a police officer, a therapist, social worker, teacher, caretaker, a parent, pretty much anyone who works with people in general, or anyone who watches the news, peruses Facebook or any other social media network, or even reads the occasional informative blog.
So basically everyone knows a little something about this.
How much more sadness, trauma, hate, rage, violence, death, injustice, unfairness, stupidity, uncertainty can we all take? How much until none of us can give a shit anymore?
That’s what Compassion Fatigue is -overwhelmed by too much tragedy and suffering, people become conditioned to feel less compassion in general. They just don’t care. They become numb.
I feel it. Mostly because my mere compassion doesn’t result in any changes. Like when 20 children were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012 and I honestly thought I wouldn’t stop crying. I just knew the whole country must have felt the same way. Those babies, around my son’s age. He would be starting Kindergarten that fall. Their faces like my son’s, sweet, happy, silly, innocent. How could that have happened to them? There was no way it could ever happen again. This tragedy would finally be the last. We as a nation would collectively make a change.
But that didn’t happen. Nothing really changes, does it? Even the death of children didn’t make much of a difference. Since then 1065 people have died in mass shootings in the United States, but I didn’t feel all of their deaths. I was numb. I was tired.
It’s happened again. This time 49 adults in a nightclub in Orlando. Cue the requisite inundation of social media posts and tweets, half-assed sentiments of prayers and thoughts, thoughts and prayers. I can barely look at their faces because I feel that I failed them. I didn’t take a stand. I didn’t make a difference and my tears for murdered children were as meaningful as everyone’s thoughts and prayers. Which is to say they really meant nothing at all.