I know that privilege means the ability to leave the social injustice we see in the world. The ability to “take a break” from Facebook because it’s gotten too much. The ability to turn away and not be affected anymore. But how do I watch the news, read the articles, feel empathy without collapsing under all the sorrow I feel?
I consider it a positive trait about me, that I empathize so strongly with any living being undergoing persecution or fear. But in our world of seven billion people, there are far too many that fit this criteria. And I’m helpless to help most of them. How do I absorb all their stories without losing myself in them?
So I’m informed. Great. I can check that off my list of “things I have to do to be a good person.” But I still don’t know how to care about every person in the world at once. I know that sounds like an unreasonable goal. Like I’m a perfectionist that wants everyone to see how good of a person I am. But I promise I’m not. My heart won’t let me allow any person who’s been wronged to go uncared for. How could I pick which people are more deserving of my love? They’re all tied at first.
So, for now, I bear the empathy with reserved caution for my own mental health. And, at church, when the reader tells us to voice our own prayer requests, either silently or out loud, you’ll hear me quietly reciting every person’s name in this seven billion population. I can’t run the risk of one of them going uncared for.