In the aftermath of the Paris massacre, there has been much public consternation, accompanied by ubiquitous expressions of solidarity. Some have argued that there is deep hypocrisy in lamenting French deaths while ignoring equally gruesome loss of life in other parts of the globe, as in Kenya, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Mexico, Palestine, or the United States, where African Americans and other etnic minorities are the victims of pervasive institutional violence and prejudice.
Others observe that our exclusive preoccupation with human suffering is an expression of speciesism, and that the human proclivity for violence cannot be curbed until we stop the animal holocaust that deprives billions of non-human animals of their freedom and lives every single year.
While acknowledging that it is true that most humans tend to care more deeply for those whom we consider “our own”, it is neither fair nor helpful to criticize harshly the concern or solidarity of those expressing partial compassion, even if it seems biased or limited.
The circle of compassion needs to be expanded to include all sentient beings, but belittling its initial expressions, however miniscule or insufficient, is counterproductive. It is indifference to suffering that needs to be identified and corrected.