30 December 2012

Uncommon Commentary #316: Newtown, Old Story

Among those who expressed condolence over the sad event in Newtown, Connecticut were students of the Caroline Miller School in Monrovia, Liberia, an institution sponsored by the Newtown Rotary Club.  This, along with the fact that Liberia has a low standard of living and that civil war there ended less than a decade ago, started me wondering what the infant-mortality rate and the average life-expectancy might be in that country; it turns out that the former is the seventeenth highest in the world, and the latter is number 194. (Also, more than 1 in 5 children under age five is underweight).  Suppose, therefore, that 20 elementary-school children die in a small city in Liberia over the course of one year rather than in one day, and as a result of conditions that do not prevail in wealthier places like Connecticut; is that less lamentable than what happened in Newtown?  Not in my opinion; it simply doesn't grab headlines like mass murder. (The one real distinction between this hypothetical situation and the shooting in Connecticut is that surviving pupils at the Sandy Hook School could be traumatized by what they witnessed.)
Tragedies happen every day, all over the world.  I don't say that we ought to ignore the Newtown massacre, but simply that we ought not to become fixated upon it.