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Aug14

Execution of James Foley. No Empathy in the World?

Execution of James Foley. No Empathy in the World?
I was devastated and shocked to read about and see the Sky news coverage of the totally unnecessary and inhumane slaying of US Journalist James Foley.
 
A man by all descriptions who has been a professional journalist putting his life on the line to satisfy the news cravings of our society and to give first- hand accounts of what is taking place in a war zone. A man who also came to the aid of fellow South African born journalist, Anton Hammerl’s family after he was also killed in active duty as a journalist, meets the most humiliating and frightening end after two years in captivity.
 
No one has any idea what this man endured for two years and now have it end like this. His parents have shown so much dignity at a time when their hearts are breaking, which probably goes a long way to explaining how James Foley showed such courage and kindness in his short time on earth.
 
War always involves unnecessary killing, often people are casualties of war by merely being in the wrong place at the wrong time, which is tragic in itself. In fact all premature deaths are tragic, no matter the cause, especially the number of children whose lives are so badly affected.
 
What really got to me about this situation however is the total lack of empathy or respect for a fellow human being.
 
The recent State of the Heart report showed a decline in empathy worldwide, indicating that people are battling to connect. There was also a decline in people’s ability to navigate emotions, resulting in a more volatile society. I think this goes even beyond that as this was not a crime committed in the heat of the moment but a deliberate, heinous act of taking an innocent man’s life just to send a message!
 
Even in times of war there have always been certain etiquettes and respect for rules. There was even a time when ceasefires were called for 24 hours on Christmas day, but how much has society deteriorated when attacks are made on journalists who have always had the protection of neutrality? When sites are bombed, where children are known to be!
 
Every day we read about acts of violence and abuse within our own communities – but why? What has happened to increase this brutality and lack of care and respect for ourselves and our fellow human beings?
 
Is it a lack of values? Perhaps we don’t have a purpose? In an age with so much confusion and violence, I can only hope that if we as individuals can try and live each day striving to be a better person than we were the day before and to teach our children how to put themselves in another person’s shoes and understand the impact that their actions and words have on others that we can slowly start to reconnect with ourselves, our values systems and to try and articulate for ourselves and others what our purpose in this world is.
 
So please take 10 minutes today just to talk, really talk to your children. Be truly present with them whilst you listen to and understand their fears, dreams and daily challenges.
 
Support them and encourage them whilst teaching them to respect themselves and others and start now talking to them about values and purpose and how every one of us can have a positive impact in the world. Emotions are contagious, so let’s start spreading some more positive emotions so that we can start to change the world one person at a time, one day at a time.
 
I leave you with this quote from Nelson Mandela and a challenge to start spreading a message of hope and purpose.
 
No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin,
or his background, or his religion.
People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate,
they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally
to the human heart than its opposite.
Nelson Mandela
Long Walk to Freedom