Monday, March 17, 2008

The Unfortunate Small Percentage

(Henceforth, there is a new label: ruminations. These are ramblings whose subject matter is not overtly Christian at all, but a bit more focused and contemplative than randomnimity posts. A few posts have been retroactively labeled as such.)

The past weekend in the Atlanta area, a pretty severe storm came through. The local channels were pre-empting the regularly scheduled programming with constant weather reports and radar images. Somewhere in there, I know that at least one time, I heard a reporter say something along the lines of "Thankfully, there were only two fatalities."

Now, I can see why you would be thankful that more people didn't die. But what about those two people? Those two people had souls, and very likely have family members who are grieving for them right now. They probably had plans for what they were going to do later this week. Viewed in a different light, it seems rather callous to say that there were only two fatalities. Would you like to tell those people "Wow, the rest of us are really lucky only your family member died."

Should we expect the two grieving families to say idealistically "Well, it stinks for us, but we're glad it didn't happen to anyone else." No, I sure wouldn't expect such sentiments from them. As we have learned in the past half-year or so, misery loves company. Sometimes when bad things happen to you, you don't want to be the only one suffering; sometimes you want everyone else to experience what you are experiencing.

It never feels good to be the unfortunate small percentage. What I mean by the "unfortunate small percentage" is when there's a very small percentage that X or Y unfortunate event will happen to you. Judging by all the people that were affected by the storms yesterday, compared with the fatalities, there was an extremely small percent chance that your family would be affected by such a fatality. Yet the fact is that two families were affected, and they feel no better knowing that they were just the recipients of unfortunate circumstances. Next time storms blow their way, there's no doubt that they will remember that one storm system that took their family member's life.

So no, I don't think it's "fortunate" that only two people died. I think it's callous and insensitive to put it that way. It is most unfortunate that people died at all.

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2 have poured out their souls in electronic text:

  • Iris

    Totally agree.

    I didn't even know about this until a friend mass-emailed a bunch of loved ones and asked if people in ATL were okay due to a tornado that came through the area.

    I am glad that you were safe during all of this.

  • Birdie

    Well said.