Inured as we are in this day and age to the tragic stories of human suffering chronicled in newspapers and television on a day to day, minute by minute basis, it can be hard to connect to the realities of a situation when disaster does fall -–and not on our doorstep.
The situation in the Philippines is a damning indictment of our collective failure to comprehend the enormity of the human tragedy unfolding.
The desperate stories told in the wake of the terrible storm, which has a death toll of 2,200 and rising, are heartbreaking – yet as the rainsodden reporters on the ground do their best to explain the horrors, you can guarantee the soap opera on the other channel has better viewing figures.
Not of course, that this is a fault or lack of compassion on the part of the general public. It is just that in a world where every disaster, every story of suffering is conveyed, it is impossible for the average person to connect or feel a responsibility, every time. We have to choose our causes or risk choosing none at all.
The trouble is, that each is more compelling than the next and never more than close to home.
If proof be needed that we do care, the attendance at the Remembrance Services for our war dead, can warm the heart.