No “WE” should be taken for granted when the subject is looking at other people’s pain
The imaginary proximity to the suffering inflicted on others that is granted by images suggests a link between the faraway sufferers —seen close-up on the television screen— and the privileged viewer that is simply untrue, that is yet one more mystification of our real relation to power. So far as we feel we are not accomplices to what caused the suffering. Our sympathy proclaims our innocence as well as our importance. To that extent, it can be (for all our good intentions) an impertinent — if not an inappropriate — response. To that extent, it can be (for all our good intentions) an impertinent — if not an inappropriate — response. To set aside the sympathy we extend to others beast by war and murderous politics for a reflection on how our privileges are located on the same map as their suffering, and may —in ways we might prefer not to imagine — be link to their suffering.
-Excerpt from “Regarding the Pain of Others” by Susan Sontag