“The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of a million is a statistic.”
- Joseph Stallin
Most of us know that 3,000 people died on 9/11, but how many Americans know how many Katrina victims there were, or how many people died in the American Revolution. Did the Christian Crusades kill 100 times as many people as the Vietnam War? Or were they identical in their death tolls? Given how much we talk about historical human tragedies, it seems like something we should have a better handle on (via).
Tim Urban, from the popular website, waitbutwhy then goes on to show just how depict the numbers of people killed in hurricane Katrina, the Syrian War, and those killed in the Sichuan 2008 earthquake. He compares most all major wars, world wide car accidents per year, and The Black Death.
All in all, there are a lot of deaths.
And the numbers, when considering that they are people, that they are husbands, mothers, moms and dads, sons and daughters, that they are friends and neighbors and people who had names and lives, becomes so overwhelming that they are no longer relatable.
How can I even comprehend 200 million lives lost?
I can’t. But I can see J.F.K. riding in his car, his desperate wife holding his lifeless body, and I can hear his grainy voice as he addresses the nation.
Does that make me callous? Heartless?
Does that make Stalin right?
“We do a pretty good job of distracting ourselves from the whole ‘I’m gonna die one day’ thing” by distancing ourselves from the personal deaths - “That wouldn’t happen to me.” But we distance ourselves from the global, much closer to reality deaths (natural disasters, car accidents, etc) by seeing the casualties as numbers, not people.
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