There’s a scene in the movie Amazing Grace, about my personal hero William Wilberforce. The movie shows how he contributed to ending the slave trade in England, and in this scene, he pilots a slave ship past another ship holding a party of English elite. The ship reeks, and the partygoers try to cover their noses, but William encourages them to “Breathe it in. Breathe deeply…Remember that smell.”
This is the scene I think about when people say the words, “I can’t imagine”. “You lost your son; I can’t imagine.”
But that isn’t true, is it? Of course you can imagine. You look down at your living child and the possibilities rush over you. You imagine everything, and it terrifies you. And that’s why so many of you turn away.
Please stop. Please listen. Please let your imagination be your guide, and take a moment to experience what it could be like to live this personal nightmare. Because it is only in empathy; in imagination, that you can really understand, and maybe take one small step towards starting to help.
Breathe deep. Experience the unpleasant feelings. For you it is only temporary. For them it is the beginning of a horrible new life.