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Empathy for all

Popular local blogger <a href="http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/xiaxue-takes-out/1641824.html">Xiaxue has taken out a protection order against anonymous online entity SMRT Feedback</a>, the latest episode in the whole online diatribe between Xiaxue, Gushcloud and SMRT Feedback.
<a href="http://xiaxue.blogspot.sg/2015/02/protection-order-against-smrt-ltd.html">Xiaxue details the continued harrassment</a> she has suffered, and it is clear that some incidents are more injurious than others, where she plays it up for effect.
As readers of meaningless fodder like this we often do the instinctive thing and take sides.
"Xiaxue had this coming, she's an online bully herself!"
"SMRT finally met their match. Xiaxue is taking the fight to them!"
Spats like these are also very ripe for memes, "witty" (more smartass than witty, but still good for inane chuckles) remarks and as we take sides, it is easy to forget the things that we all have in common.
<strong>We are all entitled to a measure of dignity</strong>. Yes, Xiaxue did this, or SMRT did that, and we are quick to judge who is deserving of online vigilante punishment, but let's take a step back from judging who's right and wrong. It hurts when you're insulted – no matter how often it's been done, many of these remarks get under your skin, and in reality, you don't ever get used to it. Words hurt. Words matter. Everyone should be accorded a measure of dignity, and while we can respectfully debate merits of actions, we should not descend into a no-holds-barred bare-knuckled fight. It doesn't matter if the other person "did it first", for crying out loud, we need to be more mature than four-year-olds.
<strong>Parents love their children</strong>. It hurts infinitely worse when your child is attacked, and you are helpless to prevent it. Communities should be protecting children, regardless of whose they are. Yes, this relates to the policies we have in supporting families as well. I can understand the dilemma policy-makers have, and I know the complexities run deep, but I believe this fundamental role of society trumps (self)-righteousness.
<strong>Focus on actions, not people</strong>. This is difficult because people are inherently defined by their actions, and often rightly so. But our realm of discussion should focus more on actions and less on determining the other party's worth as a human being. I have found it helpful to use the actions of individuals as a lead-in to discuss things from a more macro perspective – where these trends leave us – as a village, as a people. I want to be able to share these things with my children, and in doing so impart skills necessary for discernment, but even more importantly, the humility that we all are flawed, in need of grace from each other and from God, and empowered by Him to make the lives better for people around us.
There is enough love and empathy for all of us. Let's not create a scarcity that doesn't exist.

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