For the first time in my life, I have been forced to deal with the sudden death of someone in my immediate family. Such a death is akin to a tsunami of grief engulfing everyone. Not only immediate relatives but their friends and distant relatives as well, if not affected by the death, sympathize with those who are.
I am only talking about one death. Last night when I was watching the news, it occurred to me that if one death affects, say, 100 people, then 35 deaths in a war zone potentially affects 3,500 people.
In the last few days I’ve found that my sister's death has affected me less than that of an uncle I hardly knew, dying when I was a child. But then are war deaths. Devastating attacks occur in world war zones each and every day, but have we heard about all this so many times on the news that we disassociate from the pain?
I believe we have. In the example above, I mentioned an attack with a death toll of 35. That should be shocking in its own right, but it isn't. Attacks with such high death tolls are commonplace in Iraq; frequently two or more such attacks happen each day. Maybe they can't be shocking, but I feel that they should still be upsetting.
If an attack at a Baghdad marketplace killed 15 people, you might easily have 1,500 people in separate families forced into the grieving process. More likely it would be a family walking through the market together. Maybe four of those killed were from the same family — mother, father, daughter, and son. For their extended family, that is a tsunami of grief, like the one hitting my family, multiplied by a factor of four. There could have been another member of the family on the day out to the market, but she had gone to get an ice cream, or straggled behind admiring something that caught her eye. Now she has the grief to deal with, plus the guilt of surviving. The extended family now has the grief of all the deaths, plus the heart-breaking sympathy for the one left behind.
If every time an attack like this happened, everyone looked at and thought about it in this way, would there be less violence in the world?