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We, the human race, have an enormous capacity for compassion and empathy given the right circumstances. It’s a beautiful thing to watch us in action, united as we come together over a tragic event, willing a happy outcome. We watched tremulously, and with not a little awe, as Operation Rescue 12 young Thai soccer players and their former monk coach kicked into action. They’d been trapped in a flooded cave and we watched for 18 long days, attempts to save them from what could so easily have been a watery grave.

With the advent of real time broadcasting, world disasters and moments of huge joy (like royal weddings or Croatia beating the English team at the Soccer World Cup) are now enacted in our living rooms, giving us the ability to feel the happiness and fear and pain of the world: communally. I flew out of New York the night before 911, landing at what was then still Jan Smuts Airport in Johannesburg as the first plane was being flown into the World Trade Centre. My parish p...

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