How Much Can We Be Concerned Before Burning Out?
How much can we care? My personal perspective is that my resources - time, money, attention, and even caring - are limited. I live in Ecuador where we are coming up on the 7th anniversary of a 7.8 earthquake along the coast. I remember helping to gather donation of bottled water, food, etc., to send to the affected areas, but more specifically, I recall a family that was living in that area that arrived here in Cuenca with all their possessions and merchandise that they were able to salvage from the rubble that had been their shop. I helped them find a place to live and get established again, and we are still friends.
It seems to me that if we are willing to help, there are always people nearby who are in need, if we are willing. I honor those who go to great lengths to help out in disasters far away, but personally I try to be aware of those around me in need, and what I can do to help them.
"Was everyone else just callous? Or was I being over sensitive?"
Life goes on for those unaffected by tragedy, but emotions can be triggered by a realization and reflection on the scope of a tragedy. The lack of emotion or their lack of a display of caring doesn't make one callous, nor does experiencing an intellectually emotional response mean one is overly sensitive or oversensitive. It is human by nature.
As for "burning out", in essence becoming desensitized, is the by-product of an overload of intellectual and non-intellectual data being played to our emotions. It's how humans take a break from tragic reality.
As I was reading this, several things came into my mind. Every individual can care in some degree -- more or less than another individual can, but still care anyway. They can both only care limitedly, however, as no human being has the infinite time, energy, and resources to help those in need in some ways.
I also think about the motivation behind the act of "caring" when an individual does that. Being a Gen Z myself, I am aware of the temptations of being on social media, for example. When I see a post of a woman in her tiny two-piece with the caption, "Pray for Ukraine.", unfortunately, I reflexively think it's all for the sake of attention. But on the other hand, could it be that this is just a more modernist way of supporting those who are suffering? Should the approval of others become a requirement before an act of kindness is done? Should there be first a possibility of gain before considering loss? Should we care only when it benefits us?
I think when an individual cares for others in the best of their ability, and when others join them wherever they may be, when you sum up the efforts of these individuals, it creates an impact greater than the magnitude of any suffering.
Over the years (65 of them for me) I have become very pragmatic - if not a little cynical - about death and dying. Nobody here gets out alive - at least not so far. When I lived 8 miles east of Atlanta, I used to say that if I heard the air raid sirens, I would climb up on my roof with a bag of weed and a bottle of wine, and watch the show. Now that I live out of the "zone" (far west GA), I have often thought that, if it's time, I'll just get good and drunk and go for a long walk in the cold.