“I Want to Share the Pain.” Help Me Figure Out Why

Hi Readers — Here’s an issue I truly want help figuring out. I just got a comment on the post below this one (which was about why the Sandy Hook shooting feels so close)  from a reader very far away:

All the way over here in Australia, this pain is just as raw. The faces of these darling children beaming are out from the front page of today’s paper. The pain is gut wrenching….it’s in my heart, it’s in my head, and it’s in my womb. It does not make me fearful to send my children to school, but it is overwhelming. However, I do want to feel this pain, I do want to share it, but the coverage of these tragedies is always taken way too far. They are splashed constantly across our screens and paraded across our consciousness without respite.

Lenore here again: So, readers, my very real question is: Why DO we want to share the pain? And how is this actually sharing?

I ask not  because I am belittling the hurt. I feel it too, in the same organs. I’m just really trying to figure out what purpose sharing this ultimate pain (of certain parents,but not every parent in deep pain) serves. And also: Who are we sharing it with? I don’t think we’re sharing it with the actual parents, are we? Their situations and ours are so different. So are we sharing it with our fellow onlookers? What makes this feel like we are “doing” something — and what, in fact, ARE we doing?

I don’t mean to sound like a sociologist from Mars. I just think there’s something about this overwhelming feeling, even from half the world away, that may explain even more about our society than the fact we are sympathetic creatures.

Or maybe not. That’s why I’m asking. Thanks for any insights. – L

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