Thursday, April 18, 2013

On Boston

This is a bit late the party, but I thought it worthwhile.  In all the sadness I think there are a few things worth taking away.

First is that many of the initial reports will be wrong.  There was no bombing at the library.  These initial reports serve only to increase fear and the feeling that the world is "out of control," when in reality is the attack is smaller than we think.

Secondly, you shouldn't panic.  While this should seem obvious, what we end up with in reality is Good Men Project's Joanna Shroeder  talking about an "out-of-control world." While I don't always agree with everything posted on Good Men Project, its generally a levelheaded publication.

They should know better.

During a time of fear and heightened sensitivities this kind of "out-of-control" talk only agitates the situation and is in no way helpful.  The reality is that, no, the world is not "out of control."  A small percentage of a very large population doing very bad things does not make the world "out of control."  While the bombings in Boston are horrifying, your child is just as safe as before they occurred.  These types of things are, thankfully, rare.

This "world out of control" narrative only feeds the perpetrator and makes the person feel more important.  If bombings were met with no panic and the news merely reported it  without the added breathlessness, the perpetrators would loose much of their motivation.

And not to scare the bejesus out of you, but probably 100 regular, daily substances and activities pose a bigger risk to your child than something like Boston.  Driving in a car, for instance.  Allergic reactions, probably.  Falls, almost certainly.

Further refuting the "out of control" picture is the pure numbers.  Look at the emerging coverage and the pictures from the scene.  Yes, one crazed person set off a bomb and managed to kill three individuals and harm many others.  But contrast that one person against the tens or hundreds of runners and onlookers  who helped the injured.  The entire city of Boston essentially opened their doors to the injured, homeless and scared.  People lent other people their cellphones so they could check in with family.  After running 26 miles, runners kept going, heading to hospitals to donate blood - so much blood the Red Cross asked people to stop donating.

And this isn't unusual.  Sociologists now know that rather than panicked mayhem featuring rape and pillaging, those nearest to the disaster tend to bond together.  The reports of horrors in New Orleans after the flooding were reporters' conformation bias.  They expected mayhem, and reported unconfirmed reports of it as truth.  They were incorrect.

That isn't a world "out of control."  That is one person out of a billion out of control; that is a world I don't mind living in.  And its a world I don't mind sharing with my child and exposing them to.  If you want to see a world "out of control," a world where child predators lurk behind every corner and danger is only a step away, fine by me.  But while you are creating this narrative with the end goal of keeping your child safe, think about what it is doing to your child in the meantime.

As Patton Oswald said, the good outnumber the bad, and we always will.  Until we don't any longer, lets refrain from pretending the world is "out of control."

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