Compassion fatigue

THE recent landslide that killed 25 people, buried several others and damaged their homes and properties in Compostela Valley is once again testing the generosity of the Filipino people here and around the world.

To date, the Philippines has received a total of 19 million US dollars in donations and pledges for the victims of the recent tropical storm Sendong in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City, mostly coming from international donor communities and Filipino communities everywhere.

In the aftermath of Sendong, we were awash with several heart-rending appeals for cash and donations, and people from all walks of life were more than ready and willing to pour in their donations in cash and in kind.

It was really heartwarming that there was an astonishing flow of donations. Many have even cancelled their Christmas parties so that they too can contribute in spreading the joys of the season to our less fortunate brethren in Mindanao.

Even our Facebook account has become sites of shocking images of children starving and homeless. Organizations sent out graphic appeal in such way as to attract attention of those who can give.

The more vividly the suffering individuals are pictured, the greater the returns.

The Filipino generosity has indeed become proverbial, especially after being bombarded with sensational stories and spectacular images of people, especially women and children, suffering repeatedly played in our television or published in our newspapers.

But there is a danger here. The overabundance – and our overexposure – to these tragic stories and horrific images and photographs of people suffering might just numb many of us, instead of evoking public outrage and sympathies.

Horrors may have become so common place that they may cease to arouse national sympathies and tire our authentic feelings.

Our compassion become fatigued to the point where we no longer care about, and even be reluctant to see or read about the sufferings of other people.

And when this hysteria has all died down, the poor people would soon be forgotten and be left to fend for themselves away from the glare of media.

That is why as we try to help them in whatever way we can, we should bear in mind to keep their dignity always intact.


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