…in which I probably won’t change any minds, attract harsh or hurtful comments, and you won’t change my mind either. So why am I doing this? I can’t take it any more.
I am the first to admit I like to live by emotion. I am airy-fairy, or would like to be. My taste in books and movies runs to the fantasical or near fantastical. Seond Hand Lions, Notting Hill, Harry Potter, Dr. Who, Leverage, Ready Player One, The Martian—these are among my favorites. I look up spoilers regularly because I don’t want to spend money on something without a happy ending. I read the ends of books first. I really do. I like stories about the triumph of the human spirit. I want to believe in the goodness of mankind. I want to believe in the humanity of mankind.
Recent events have tested that desire. Not only the horrific events themselves, but also the reaction to those events.
Because despite my desire to cling to emotion, I also believe in facts and logic. Science trumps beliefs. Logic trumps emotion. So let me throw some numbers at you.
In 2013, 10,076 people were killed in drunk driving accidents.1 In 2013 all firearm deaths (includes accident, homicide, and suicide) totaled 33,636.2 The estimated number of murders for 2013 was 14,196.3 There were an estimated 79,770 reported rapes in the same year. (ibid.) These numbers are just for the US. These numbers are also all trending downward from earlier stats. That’s great news. There were 53 shark attacks worldwide that year too.
There were 10,000 terror attacks worldwide in 2013, causing 17,958 deaths. Of those deaths, 14,722 were in five countries: Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria.4 Those numbers are going up. The number of terrorism deaths of US citizens abroad in 2013 was sixteen.5 Nineteen terror victims died domestically.6
Every one of these numbers represents a mother, father, sister, brother, friend, relative, mentor, student, or any combination thereof; most represent a tragedy to someone somewhere. Those numbers are human lives. And even one is too many.
The events in Paris, Egypt, Beirut and elsewhere this week are tragedies, and our emotions get riled up.
Here’s the other point about humans I want to believe: we can be rational creatures. I honestly believe, biologically, the male of the species isn’t meant to be monogamous. But if we claim to have a brain, then we can overcome those urges (which is why I never have sympathy for politicians who are caught cheating; it’s stupid behavior and I can’t condone stupid behavior; even if you’re tempted, you use your brain and empathy not to act on your impulse; and don’t believe your own press. Sheesh.)
Back to the more serious subject. That there are people out there willing to hurt innocents makes them less than human (Not just terrorists—the drunk drivers and the criminals too; not the sharks—by definition they are less than human). Action should be taken against them.(Not the sharks)
But if you can’t look rationally at the numbers and realize that the odds are greater that you will be a victim of homicide or drunk driving than a terror attack, and your emotions override your humanity and allow bigotry to rule your actions, then you are less than human too.
Books I’m reading now:
Theft of Swords by Michael J Sullivan