Friday, July 15, 2016

Empathy and Nice, FR

Events in Nice and Orlando and San Bernadino and …and …and the reaction to them bring to my mind a poem I first read more than six decades ago as a Freshman at Syracuse U. It's not the failure to react that bothers me, it's the cheap shots that some politicians make about terrorism without an ounce of sincere empathy. The Trump reaction: build a wall!, Ban Imigaion. It was the death of a US father and his 11 year old son in Nice that brought to my mind the Auden poem.
Yet, but as bad as some self-serving reaction to the events nothing can compare to the indifference, and even grotesque joy of the ISIS adherents to the suffering they impose on others.

Follow the link to see the painting.

About suffering they were never wrong, 
The Old Masters; how well, they understood 
Its human position; how it takes place 
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along; 
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting 
For the miraculous birth, there always must be 
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating 
On a pond at the edge of the wood: 
They never forgot 
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course 
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot 
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse 
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree. 
In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away 
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may 
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry, 
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone 
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green 
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen 
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky, 
had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

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