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Empathy… where is it?

Recent news has made me question often, is empathy lost?  We’ve all heard about the little boy who lost his life at Disney World because an Alligator swept him away while his Dad fought with everything he had to free his son.  Can you imagine the terror they all must have been feeling.  But since a “no swimming” sign was posted, we do not appear to even try to imagine their pain.  Instead we say things like, “they must be idiots” or “how do they do something so stupid?”.  We go on and on about how wrong they were like we’ve never once made a mistake that could have been terrible.  How many times has the line came out of your mouth, “I just turned my back for a second and _________.”  I’m sure everyone could fill the blank with something their child has done that made their heart stop for a second. You might fill that blank with , “they were not where I left them,” or “they were eating something that wasn’t food”, the list could go on and on.  Or how about the things we know we should not do but we just think it will be okay because it is “only or a second”.  Like unbuckling your child to adjust or feed them while driving down the road, leaving any thing that could be used as a weapon unlocked around your home (better lock up those butter knives), leaving those Tide Pods that apparently kids they are candy laying around, letting them pet a strangers dogs,  taking their helmet off while riding a bike or skating, buying your kid an energy drink, letting your child drive before they are of age, letting your child have beer, the list could go forever.  All these things we know we should not do.  They seem like little things, but at some point for someone they were big things. Yet we do them anyways because somehow we are exempt from dealing with that this family in Florida is facing.  It also does not make you a bad person if you did do one of those, it was a lapse of judgement, we all have it or maybe because 99% of the time everything is okay if you do one of those things. For a Nebraska family, no swimming may just mean there is no lifeguard or the water is kind of gross.  I’m sure many of us has done the same thing.  The child was just a the water’s edge and his parents were there.  No swimming and alligators might be present are two totally different things.  Disney didn’t even know alligators were there, they typically remove them from inside the park whenever they are found.  Your chances of meeting an alligator face to face is incredibly slim, even in a heavily populated area such as Florida.  Deadly attacks are even less likely.  I recently read that there’s been about 23 deadly attacks since the 70’s in the United States.   So probably a lot more deaths have occurred from the things I listed above that we pass off as okay.

My biggest point here is that, when as a society did we stop caring.  A family who planned an amazing vacation for their children will be boarding a plane at some point without their son.  The Mom and Dad probably were just as excited as the kids for the vacation because they were going to get to watch the magic through their child’s eyes.  They probably picked out the cute outfits with the crazy mouse ears for them to wear in anticipation for a great time.  In no way, did they expect this.  None of us do.  At any moment our own lives could be flipped upside down for whatever reason.  One of us could be a grieving parent and the very last thing you need is society telling you that they are better parents than you and that you deserved this.  Because they don’t.  None of us do.  Parents all over the world are literally winging it.  You could read every parenting book in the world and still not be parent of the year.  We all make mistake, we hurt our kids feelings by accident, we don’t always put safety first (even if you think you do, you don’t), we are not perfect 100% of the time.  So instead of trying to make ourselves feel better about our own mistake by attacking others, how about we fill the world with love and support for other parents.  This family will never be the same, it is tragic and it absolutely heartbreaking.  That is what Facebook should have been filled with instead of wasting our time trying to figure out who to blame.  At any moment this could be you, in a freak accident, begging for your life to be the same but it never will be.   So have a little empathy, if we even know what that word means anymore.

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