I have been thinking about my mother a good deal in recent days, not because there has been a significant anniversary but because I have found myself longing to discuss with her the plight of the Syrian - and other - refugees.
My mum was the most compassionate person I ever met. She didn't judge people on the grounds of their gender, sexuality, race or religion. She was forever helping people in distress, often simply by listening to their stories. Listening without judging, she believed, was one of the most compassionate things we can do for another human being.
There certainly was an absence of compassion in some of the posts I read on Facebook this week. To be honest, I'm a relative newcomer to Facebook, having been put off by much of what I read about it, and having therefore resisted for several years. But, eventually, it became apparent that this was probably the only way of keeping in touch - and keeping in touch simultaneously - with many members of my large, extended, and international family, not to mention several friends. Today, however, I came very close to leaving Facebook; instead, I simply 'hid' posts and 'unfollowed' people.
I'm not sure what my mum would have made of Facebook; she would have been shocked and saddened by the vitriol and ranting that was pouring out this week but gladdened by the positive connections that people were making, sometimes with complete but like-minded strangers. She would have been moved, this week, by the kindness of strangers. She would have loved looking at photos of family and friends and hearing their news but would have had no hesitation about deleting anything that distressed or disappointed her.
My mum loved reading, wrote brilliant letters, and never had any difficulty finding the right word at the right time. If she were still alive, I think that these are the words she would have chosen to put on Facebook today:
*My mum, who was a professional singer and dancer when she was young, loved musicals; Oliver was one of her favourites and this, one of her favourite songs.
(And I put this post on Facebook . . . )