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 It is not that they accuse us of lying, they now say, or failing in our duty; it is that describing their experiences only seems to make things worse.

Gradually, I have come to realise there may be some truth in that. In 1940, during the London Blitz, the poet Louis MacNeice noticed the same curiosity, that awareness of others’ fate seemed to make people less rather than more empathetic: “…with doom tumbling from the sky/ Each of us has an alibi/ For doing nothing – Let him die.” The plethora of news distances us from the disaster unfolding: “Let him die, his death will be/ A drop of water in the sea/ A journalist’s commodity.”