The night after the shootings and bombing in Paris that killed over 125 people on Friday the 13th of November, the Albany Public Library Foundation held its second annual Literary Legends gala to honor two writers. One, Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked, who was born in Albany, ended his brief remark with a quote, which I failed to write down. I thought it contained the phrase “the imagination of compassion.”
Instead of finding what’s wrong with someone’s response to a situation, try to imagine the scenario with some compassion. The idea of imagination compassion is far more uplifting and far less destructive. “You remake the world when you imagine it compassionate.”
So while I didn’t change my status on Facebook to the French tricolor – in part because it feels, to me, that it gives the bombings in Beirut the day before the short shrift. And indeed, there are tragedies every day around the world that warrant our response, so one could argue Eurocentrism. Yet I’m opposed to criticizing those who did post the blue, white, and red because they are expressing their own compassion.
I note Arthur’s lovely tale, which I suppose would be characterized as an imagination of compassion, though I can see it taking place in Lebanon as well as France.
Hey, I understand the bias towards Paris. France is the US’s oldest ally. More to the point, there were three households I knew personally that night in Paris. One was a woman from Albany passing through. Dartmouth professor and writer Jeff Sharlet, who I knew when he was a child, was interviewed by MSNBC that night.
That Literary Gala’s other awardee was Barbara Smith, who has written a bunch of black feminist literature. I asked her if she knew my mother’s first cousin Fran, a noted writer in those circles, and she had indeed met her. Fran’s two daughters were born in Paris, and daughter Anne and her family are living there currently.
And then I get the real quote from Maguire: “The consolation of imaginary things is not imaginary consolation.” – Roger Scruton. Memory can be so faulty.
“Compassion: a source of comfort to somebody who is upset or disappointed.” So the above still holds.
Still, I’m told that group referred to as ISIS, or ISIL, HATE to be referred to as “DEASH”. Daesh (or Da’esh pronounced dɑʃ). It’s a term used to describe the terrorist organization, introduced by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. (Is this why they’ve been so focused on France?)
Fabius argued that since the IS is not Islamic and absolutely not recognized as a state, he said “…the Arabs call it Daesh…” (from Arabic “to tread upon”, “to trample or crush underfoot”). I’ve decided to refer to them only as Daesh going forward. My compassion can go only so far.
My pal Amy Biancolli, who has dealt with suicides in her life, is uncomfortable with the term suicide bomber. A reader suggested kamikaze, and I’m thinking that it’s more correct, perhaps with a qualifier of some sort.