Why does empathy disappear?

“It has suddenly got SO COLD.

Man it was cold last night.

So cold that there’s frost on the floor and puddles are frozen.

It’s early November and it’s only going to get colder.

What if I told you that a 14-year-old boy had to sleep out in that last night?

Would you be horrified?

I am!

What if I told you that he’d also been raped and beaten up?

Would you be angry?

This is all true by the way, I’m not making this up!

What if I said that he just wanted his mum?

Would your heart break?

Mine does.

What if I told you that the police found him, but only kicked him some more and took his coat off him?


I think we’re all the same in caring for this little boy (and the hundreds that are like him).

So why does that empathy disappear for some people when I say that he ran away from war, fighting and killing? That this brave boy crossed a continent on his own. Why does empathy disappear for him and the hundreds like him when we find out that he’s not European?

I just don’t get it!”

Thank you Brendan Woodhouse for these powerful words.

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