Thursday, May 02, 2013

Left Side of the Aisle #106 - Part 3

Boston bombing reaction: why do some events affect us more than others?

The other thing I wanted to raise is more philosophical.

In the same week as the Boston bombings, at least 34 people were killed, over 100 injured, and up to 1,000 homes were damaged in an earthquake on the Iran-Pakistan border.

In the same week as the Boston bombings, another earthquake struck China's Sichuan province, leaving whole villages in ruins, over 200 people either dead or missing, over 11,000 injured, and 17,000 more homeless.

In the same week as the Boston bombings, in the small town of West, Texas, a fertilizer plant that hadn't had a federal safety inspection in 28 years caught fire and exploded, resulting in the deaths of at least 14 people and the injuries of at least 200 along with the destruction of nearby neighborhoods.

Every one of those cases involved more people killed, as many or more - a whole lot more - people injured, and more property damage than occurred in Boston. By every standard measure, deaths, injuries, and property damage, all of them were greater tragedies.

So why don't they feel that way? Why the difference? Why do some things strike us so much more than others?

We can say two of them involved foreign countries and Americans don't care about disasters in foreign countries but that's hardly a satisfying answer both because that's not entirely true and because it doesn't answer the question: Why does that make a difference? And in any event it can't be applied to Texas. I know some people say Texas acts like a foreign country, but I'm not looking for the joke here.

And I want to emphasize that I'm not making a judgment here. I'm not saying that people are callous by not caring as much about this as about that or that they are being overly sensitive by caring more about that than this. What I'm thinking about is why. And what does that say about the psychology of being on the left or on the right, if anything? Why do some kinds of events just strike us more, hit us harder emotionally, than others?

Just something I wanted to put out there for you to think about.


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