The Drowned and the Saved - Primo Levi

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There is no proportion between the pity that we feel and the extent of the pain by which the pity is aroused: one single Anne Frank moves us more than the countless others who suffered just as she did but whose faces have remained in the shadows. Perhaps it is better that way; if we were capable of taking in all the suffering of all those people, we would not be able to live.

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bvw 3 years, 8 months ago
This is a very non-linear effect which Levy notes. In my experience and obsevartions the more we try to entrain, to capture in our mind and emotional mind the emotive experiences of many many others, or even not so many, but more than one or a handful, we start losing empathy and grounding. We tend to become on one hand cold and uncaring or on the other an emotional meltdown worthless even to ourselves and very a pain and distraction to others. Careful use of words, logical thought, small acts of grounding and of tenderness towards others can re-establish normal human emotional, social and intellectual bearings, but I do not think it ever gets as bad as Primo suggests -- unless we are insipidly indulgent, or so cold we no longer care for anything. Again, the two overdriven types of human response to massive tradegy, and also massive anti-tragedy.

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