Sunday, June 17, 2007

Caring Too Much And Too Little

Almost 3,000 died on 9/11. Our government's response added 3,500 to that number in Iraq. Each number has provoked a powerful response in the public mind. The first demanded blood vengeance, the second pushes opinion towards a withdrawal from Iraq.

Studies have been shown that we empathize with those who we can relate to who die, and we also relate to figures. If 30 Americans were murdered by the same 19 hijackers every day for 100 days, this time by sniping, would our reaction be different? The same amount of people would have fallen.

If the pilots refused to give up the cockpit, or the passengers were successful in rushing the terrorists would our reaction be changed? If the hijackers missed the buildings and lost control of the planes and landed in the ocean, with 400 dead passengers dead, no building scratched would our present reality have changed?

I ask this because the fact that suiciders armed with a tool for cutting open cardboard boxes wrapped with packing tape have been the imputus for re-organizing our society. If the plot failed for some reason, I suspect that our national anger would have not reached the peak that it did. The intent was no different?

In some ways, these people were "lucky" to be so successful in their terms. Group psychology will cost us two trillion dollars in the long term in Iraq. Money of course is only one of our concerns.

If we examine why we reacted the way we did, leaving the Bush administration out of it, we might prevent such stupidity from re-occurring in the future.

Today, we could save 7,500 lives in the period it has taken us to lose them by changing safety standards on cars, draconian enforcing seat belt, drunk driving laws would likely do the trick. We don't. We grieve for the lost ones in Iraq, rightfully so. Those who die needlessly now are quietly mourned by their families, as the death toll mounts.