Friday, September 16, 2005

Seeing the trees for the forest.

The U.S. soldier death toll in Iraq is about to exceed 1900. On a daily basis, we read news reports of 4 dead in Iraq, 7 dead, 28 dead, etc. We quickly absorb the tragic news and move on. That's wrong.

Granted, it's not the same as thousands dying all at once due to planes smashing into buildings or massive floodwaters. But a death is a death is a death.

For each reported dead soldier in Iraq, there's a family tragically affected. Always try to imagine that family could be yours and that father or mother could be you. Empathize, tremendously.

Don't do as Bush and his neocon cadre do, treating the reality of the dead as simply aggregate data or tolerable statistics. Always humanize the numbers and translate the figure, no matter the size, into "1". Yes, 1000 dead is worse than one dead, but by overly calibrating your reaction of horror based on the magnitude of the number dead distorts the fact that one dead person is as bad as several. In either case, it's wrong.

Similarly, when Princess Di tragically died, millions of people around the world grieved her death. However, in the end, hundreds if not thousands of people around the world died of one thing or another on August 31, 1997, and their deaths on that day were just as tragic as Princess Di's. A death is a death is a death.

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