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  • 22 February 2023
One of the most puzzling and thought-provoking features of our world is simultaneity. It means that at the very same time people in people in different parts of the world have radically different experiences.

For example, one early Melbourne morning last week, as the sun rose red over the trees and distant college tower in the local park, the skyscraper windows reflected the colour of the sky and six colourful balloons drifted over the city. Walkers and their dogs smiled at the vision. At the same time in Kiev the sky was red with distant fires, a city high-rise collapsed in a pile of rubble, drones plunged down from the air, and the streets were empty apart from those attending their dead.

The questions posed by these simultaneous experiences are whether people at a distance from us in space or in time make a claim on us and, if so, how we can respond to them. These are the questions Hamlet asked about an actor’s relationship to the person he plays:

What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba,That he should weep for her?

To weep for people far from us in time or space assumes that we are more than isolated individuals or members of local tribes. It implies that we are connected with one another and with our world at a depth that transcends time and space. We, with our gifts and predicaments and our shared world, matter to one another. It matters at an intangible level that we should treasure in our imagination the peaceful experience of a beautiful world at dawn. It matters also that we should allow the suffering of the people of Ukraine to enter our imagination. Though distant from us they are closed enough to them to weep for them and our own helplessness. And so to look for ways to support them. 




  Andrew Hamilton is consulting editor of Eureka Street, and writer at Jesuit Social Services. Main image: Getty images.