Amongst one another, it is often hard to identify and experience the full sadness, happiness, or pain of another individual. We reply on what others report to comprehend their pain and we often try to relate this to a time in our own lives in which we felt that way.
Since the longest time that I can remember, reported pain and mishaps seem to take up a large bulk of the news. I can only say that I came into semi-consciousness of the reality of it when I was around the age of 16, but even then, I didn’t feel like I was fully able to appreciate others’ suffering.
Not the war in Syria, not the Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria, not the droughts in Eastern Africa, not the attack in Manchester, not the attack on London Bridge, not the pain and suffering anywhere else in the world urged me to do much more than just donate money except the inferno that took place in Grenfell Tower yesterday morning. Waking up for suhoor, I tend to scroll through my news app on my phone and the event unfolding at that time had been reported as another ‘fire block outbreak’. It made me think back to last August when a fire broke out in another block of flats in Shepherds Bush Green and finishing my meal and getting ready to sleep again, I didn’t think much more than that– until I woke up later on that morning to the devastation.
Seeing first hand the West London community’s (and beyond) efforts to help those effected by the fire was really breathtaking. It made me think back to the Dakota Access Pipeline controversy that blew up in the news last November, where even though I was outraged, when a friend on the ground recounted her own experiences attending the protests, I felt so detached and disconnected from the actual action and reality of the situation.
For the first time yesterday I actually did something more than sending money to help. It was so heart-warming and encouraging to see the community come together and not simply brush aside other people’s pain and suffering. It was through perceiving this suffering firsthand that I realised that if everyone showed this amount of care and concern for everyone’s suffering worldwide, then there would be a much bigger driving force for collaboration and change. Ultimately, however, I think it takes the action literally hitting home for us to be jolted into action, because when it happens at home you cannot just change over the news channel or continue scrolling through your Facebook feed. ‘Far way’ pain is hard for individuals to connect to and appreciate apparently.
Seeing the Grenfell Tower ablaze yesterday really bought alive for me how this is the only reality for the hundred of thousands who are living in war zones everyday. One tower block was on fire and it devastated a whole community- can you imagine thousands of buildings alight? How many friends and family members, how many lives lost, how much suffering.
I believe what has really given strength and some possible comfort to the community is the effort, emotional support, and resources that have been pulled together from all over London and the UK to help those affected. Hope in the hardest of times is the one thing that keeps us going. My heart sinks to think of the individuals in war-stricken zones receiving no help– they must feel so alone and so helpless. How do they keep on going? Who is going to help them keep on going?
This event has really opened my eyes to the importance of community- and not just in times of need. Our community should not stop at just 20 minutes down the road. Our duty and our love for one another should and must run much deeper because misfortune can fall on anyone of us.