This need to push away dark truths is sensible, and practical, but we also feel the need to do justice to the suffering we read about. We know how lucky we are to be onlookers, and we want to reach out. The past few days have been dominated by the attacks in Paris. As I write, the death toll (never thought I'd type that phrase) of the ISIL terrorism spree is 129.
The damage spreads much further. Each of those people are at the centre of a ripple of pain that flows out through the people who loved them. There's a larger shockwave too, as fear trickles through society, as we all cancel plans to holiday in the middle east, or shuffle away from rucksacks on the tube.
I sat and closed my eyes, feeling it wasn't enough just not to speak. I had to be actively silent. That's an odd thought, but it turned out to be an extraordinary minute. Sixty seconds always feels longer than you think it will; this minute stretched and my silence deepened as I lay back on the quiet empathy of countless thousands of other people.
I felt a bubble of emotion in my chest. A strong, nameless emotion which was nothing like the sad hopelessness I felt watching the news. Was this happening to others? I felt sure it must. We are all alike, even if those wretches stalking the streets in suicide vests would have us believe differently.
If you use your imagination for a living, it's not hard to take thoughts further. I visualised the bubble I made - a joyous, empathetic, delicate thing - soar up, like a balloon, to meet the bubbles created in the hearts of each silent person. Is that so fanciful? Couldn't we have built a cloud of mercy that could drift over barriers?
Put like that, yes, it's ridiculous. But the feeling of having changed persisted. I felt stronger, less liable to despair about the state of things. Soon, the 11 o'clock news began and the familiar phrases came thick and fast - "semi automatic rifles"; "blood on the ground". And the most chilling of all - "further attacks are possible".
I was able to listen, able to put it in perspective. Some people are evil, but most people do no harm. There are more of 'us' than there are of 'them'.