When Lauren died I remember feeling shocked. This probably sounds like an obvious emotion, but I was shocked because I thought this was the kind of thing that happens to other people. The people you read about on social media or in the papers and feel sorry for, but you can't really empathise with them because, in our minds, they are the things that happen to Other People, people that are not us.
Watching the horror unfold in Ukraine I felt myself battling against the same feelings, feeling sorry for the Other People that bad things happen to. I saw a post for The Body Shop professing their solidarity with their colleagues in Ukraine, and I thought, wow, these Other People have The Body Shop too. The thought made me stop and take stock and realise that this is not happening to Other People, but to people. There are real human stories out there at every turn, the Afghan Baby born the day before the Russian bombings began whose parents are unable to leave Ukraine as she has no papers, the 3 year old child with Cancer who has run out of medication so her mum waits at the train station with her wrapped in her arms hoping for a train to Poland, the child dressed in unicorn pyjamas dying in the doctors arms after her home was bombed. I am crying writing this, at the horror and pain of it all, These are not Other People.
It's a defence mechanism I suppose to protect us from the reality that terror does await around every corner, there actually are monsters under the bed. We would be unable to live our lives preparing for our loved ones to die, or our homes to be bombed. But have we allowed our protectionisms to turn into delusion. What happens to these walls we put up to shelter behind when they are ripped down. Do we have anyone to turn to when we become Other People. Or are we shunned because we hold up a mirror to all that is scary and real in this world and people who are not Other People do not want to see.
Is the horrible truth that by hiding from life's pain, by failing to acknowledge we can all succumb to it, we continue to allow these atrocities to happen, blissful in the knowledge that they happen to Other People?
"All War is a symptom of man's failure as a thinking animal." John Steinbeck