When you get stopped on the street for the first time by a charity clipboard person, I'm sure that there is a part of you that feels a great sympathy for the charities cause, that really wants to help. Some of you may even have set up that standing order for the victims of landmines, or the NSPCC.
It is now the 2000th time and you are walking down Regents Street and Brad with the bib and dreadlocks seems to jump in front of you like some clipboard wielding assassin. "Sir! Could you spare a few minutes for the children of Africa?" you already have 30 seperate standing orders for £10 a month coming out of your current account, you are being bled dry by Amnesty International, Save the Children, Oxfam and various other organisations who emply this method of attack on the high streets of great Britain? "Fuck off mate, I hope all the children of Africa die"
Not specifically if it were fraudsters or con men taking £300 from your current account, you'd be just as harsh with them if they asked you for more. Why should the charity worker get it any differently?
It is for this reason that I have started equating sympathy with money and therefore I only have a limited amount of sympathy and need to distribute it fairly and evenly over the course of a calender month. For example my neighbours mother died 6 days after the July 7th Bombings, not a shred of sympathy for her. It had all been used up some 6 days previously, now because of that lack of sympathy I no longer get on with my neighbour, which is a shame because he has a real cool cinema system in his home which we'd watch all the blockbuster movies on in surround sound. In effect, my lack of sympathy cost me in practical terms.
But is it fair to monetise an abstraction such as sympmpathy or empathy and what numbers would we come up with if we did?
I asked Yahoo Answers what number comes after a trillion, and the answer was startling; quadrillion, after that a pentillion, then hexillion, then a septillion, an octillion. These numbers are massive, so big in fact that even delving into them could sidetrack the point I am trying to make by way of almost a paragraph.
realising that this was a dead end in terms of trying to quantify sympathy, and having already compared sympathy to money, I asked yahoo answers how much money was on the planet: the answer according to the IMF website was 40-44 trillion, which doesn't seem that much really considering that money is a man made construct. However, sympathy - although rationalized in human terms - is a natural occurance.
In the same way a parasite is.
However, I am getting magnificantly sidetracked and need to get back to the subject at hand. Several facebook friends have decided that either the people of Norway or Amy Winehouse deserve all their sympathy. I completely understand the need to shit or walk, choose black or white, sleep or wake. After all in todays climate sympathy is limited due to the recession. I obviously need to fit in with my friends. So lets look at the Pro's & cons of sympathising with each and hopefully by the end of this blog (if that ever comes!) I shall have come to an informed decision.
PRO'S OF SYMPATHISING WITH THE WINEHOUSE DEATH
There was something very human about Amy, she had a cracking voice and we grew very familiar with her.
We also know her father through media contact, surely wse must be able to sympathise with a father whose child is so hopelessly lost to drug addiction that he always expected the call from the police that Mitch recieved on saturday.
It is natural human emotion to feel sad for unfulfilled potential.
My sympathy can be directed at a small group of people who will be able to make the most use of it.
CONS OF SYMPATHISING WITH THE WINEHOUSE DEATH
She brought it on herself.
She craved media attention.
She wasn't the prettiest of people (a completely superficial reason but subconsciously, you have little control over things like that.)
She was only one person, people die of this sort of thing all the time and they don't get our sympathy, why should she be any different.
PRO'S OF SYMPATHISING WITH THE VICTIMS IN OSLO
They were innocent victims of a deranged man, with families and their futures in front of them.
Many more died than Amy Winehouse.
They were just normal people going about their business.
They didn't bring it on themselves.
CONS OF SYMPATHISING WITH THE VICTIMS IN OSLO
I don't personally know any of them.
The Norwegians are notorious Whalers, this could be some kind of karma comeback or divine punishment.
More of them died than Amy Winehouse.
The last point is both a pro and a con, by dividing my sympathy among the winehouse family they will get a reasonable amount of sympathy. but if I was to divide the same amount of sympathy among the 95-100 victims of the Oslo massacre, the final amount of sympathy would be the equivalent of leaving a two pence tip in a restaraunt. An insult.
95-100 victims is a lot, roughly the same body count as the film Commando. You might think it is crass to bring up an ultraviolent movie glorifying shooting and bombing, but there are important differences which will help us learn. For example, when Schwarzanegger kills 100 people in a movie, its okay to cheer. When a right wing maniac kills 100 people, it isn't.