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Sympathy for the Few

2007-04-22

Category: philosophies

Over the past week, I have had the greatest sympathy for the loved ones of those people who did not have the decency to be murdered as part of a large group. The nation has pulled together to mourn the deaths of those murdered at Virginia Tech. No doubt that this is a sad occasion, but it shows how much we tend to ignore deaths in general.

If I remember correctly, the Chicago area averages about two murders a day. Other large cities also have a high murder rate. Even here in Iowa we have a few murders every year and that number is going up. Once you leave the United States, there are areas where the murder rate is far higher.

Things get even worse when you look at places like Darfur Sudan where entire villages have been wiped out. Only recently has that popped up in the American consciousness. What?s more, though many Americans are aware of the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq (and less so in Afghanistan) but don?t know much about the deaths of our allies or civilians.

The reason for all of this is that most people go through their lives and don?t have time to worry about everybody else. The Virginia Tech incident stands out to the American public because of the belief that schools should be safe and that those threatened or harmed are seen as children. (Yes, college aged adults are seen as children, but that?s a different issue.) What?s more, there is national news coverage of this sort of thing whereas most murders only show up in local news.

I can understand all of this. I realize that this sort of wakeup stuns people who are normally oblivious to the harshness that happens in the world. However, it is important that those people not come down on me just because I?m not as stunned by this one incident. I can go about my business and still be sad for the people murdered at Virginia Tech just as I go on everyday knowing that all this other death is going on in the country and the world. I?m also aware of all the starving children, all the abuse of people, and the general plight of people everywhere.

So, I hope this reminds people that there is a lot more bad stuff out there and you never know when it may insinuate itself into one?s own life. More importantly, I hope it reminds you that getting all uppity because you are ?more sensitive? than I is a good way to get called a moron.


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