It sounds simple, but the concept of “remembering” has becoming really important to me. Not facts, or information, but people and situations.

We can so easily “forget” – just get on with our own things.

“Remembering” people – bringing them and their situations to mind – makes us mindful of their reality. And when we do that we gain empathy.

I sometimes try to do this when navigating a busy city. Noting that the people around me are… people! They have thoughts and feelings.

Perhaps they have a difficult situation they are working through and life is hard.

Perhaps they are celebrating.

Perhaps they are on their way to a job interview. Or an important meeting.

Perhaps they couldn’t pay their electricity bill today or visited a food bank.

Perhaps they have a Jewish friend.

Perhaps they know someone living in Gaza.

It can be overwhelming, realising that all those people passing by have complex inner lives and relationships.

And yet, it seems more critical than ever that we remember.

It’s also overwhelming to think of people we don’t see.

People who, themselves, live – or are struggling to live – in Gaza…

People who are on the front-line in Ukraine…

People working in hospitals in war zones…

People digging through rubble to find their child or sibling or parent…

It is overwhelming. And it’s OK to not focus on it all day long. To distract yourself. To switch off.

But we must remember.

For if we don’t remember, we don’t have empathy; we are, as I once heard, “like a cow looking at cars. You know, a cow looks at a car. They watch it. But nothing’s going on. When you drive past a cow [in Ireland] it looks up, it watches, but there’s nothing going on inside. And then it goes back to eating. That’s how we treat people in daily life… you don’t really see them. They’re just objects. They are functions.”