20 + 26000 = ?

December 16, 2012

I suppose this is how people make sense of things.

We seek as much information as we can, we allow ourselves to drown in the maelstrom of emotion and images and sound clips and articles and news and radio and click our way through angry article after angry article and somewhat uncritically share things on Facebook.

But I can’t get over the incongruence.

Today, according to Unicef, 26,000 thousand children under five will die. Approximately. Twenty-six thousand. A thousand kids, twenty-six times. And tomorrow, the same number again.

And not because of unmanageable events out of our control.

They’ll die from preventable circumstances, like war, like malnutrition, like diarrhoea.

Fucking diarrhoea.

When my kid gets diarrhoea I give her some medicine and it goes away. I just, like, casually, save her life.

Why is it the 20 dead kids have absorbed so much of our attention so quickly? What about the 21,000 who we ignore?

Is it because 21,000 is such a large number that we feel so helpless? Is it that that they seem far away? Is it that some of us can’t relate to those families that live in countries with strange names and languages?

The Newtown deaths, for some us feels close. I used to live in Connecticut. I have kids that age. To me this tragedy feels tangible.

And tonight when I tucked my kids into bed I hugged them a little longer, grateful, not only because because they are here but that they are fed, housed, clothed, healthy and educated.

Yes, tonight I think of the twenty, but I also think of the 21,000.

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