Posted: March 27, 2015
A plane crashes. We spring to life.
The airwaves fill with callers. Tom Ashbrook leads his followers through a chorus of ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions. Wolf Blitzer commissions experts on the topic. Anderson Cooper digs for the human interest angles about the children, the soon-to-be-wed teacher, the mother’s only son.
Worrying about death by plane, like death by ebola, Muslim or cop, seems so big because it’s really so small. We can get our arms around it, unlike the things that really kill us.
One of my kids recently said that ‘older’ people dying of cancer was the same as dying of ‘old age.’ A new name or a timeless thing. Cancer: normal. Heart Disease: normal. Inner City Murder: normal. Climate change: irrevocable if not normal.
Is it factory farming, pollution, genetic modification…that’s causing tens of millions to die unnaturally? Don’t now. Is is social policy, education, job availability or something other that’s bifurcating society like never before? Unclear.
It hurts our heads to think about the grey, insidious, creeping deaths that await most of us. We sense it’s avoidable, or at least can be pushed further out, but we’re unclear how. So we perseverate on that one in a million fate that almost certainly will not befall any of us. We glom onto media accounts of the fantastic because thinking about our ordinary fates is just too depressing and overwhelming.
Bummed out? Look! A shiny thing!