This week the Jewish people, specifically the religious ones, mark the date of “the ninth of Av” – when according to Jewish tradition the second temple (and presumably also the first one) was destroyed, and many were killed.
There are many similarities between the disasters of “the ninth of Av”, about 2,000 years ago, and the Toba super-eruption in Sumatra, Indonesia about 70,000 years ago.
Both events killed many of my ancestors, much of what was their “nation” at the relevant time. And yes, both nowadays carry arguments about their exact original dates and the amount of fatalities, though there is no dispute about their very existence. Both events are considered – this way or another – as a significant moment in the history of the groups hurt in them. With both events, there is some weak relation between the culture and way of life of the people involved – and my own culture or way of life nowadays – mine as well as my friends’.
Both events occurred thousands of years ago, and none of us – including myself – never knew personally anyone who was killed or injured, even though I’m most likely the descendant of some of those who survived. None of us, including myself, is even remotely familiar with any of the people killed or injured, neither with their direct relatives, nor with friends who can testify. No one of my friends has ever been involved in any other event directly or indirectly related to the deceased. I’ve never seen any photo or video clip of any of the human tragedies – not even one. Actually there are none to be found, and no person I know will ever see any.
The ancient peoples survived both events, and see how far we’ve advanced since then. Had any of these events occurred differently, my life today has probably been very different. Still I don’t feel any sadness and no grief. I mourn none of the killed or injured people. The human brain simply cannot feel any real sadness or grief for distant stories it is not personally associated with. Anyone who will tell you otherwise is either a hypocrite or brainwashed – often both.