2015-12-22 – In my last post I tried to parody the shrillness of today’s media with the “breaking news” of daybreak. You all know what it’s like. We’re all so over-the-top that the banner “breaking news” is a permanent feature, not a rare occurrence.
When I was a kid, true breaking news was introduced on TV with the words: “We interrupt this program to bring you a special bulletin.” This happened, maybe, once a year. Twice is there was a severe weather event. Today, there are no programs. We binge watch special bulletins.
The adrenalin flows.
Today I stumbled upon an odd video. You can watch it here, if you want. The posters of the video call in “shocking,” of course. How else do you get attention for your work? It’s not really shocking—in the special bulletin sense. What it is, is thought provoking. And I’m going to tell you what’s shocking about it so you don’t have to sit through it.
There are two things. The first is the tally of the 10s of millions of people who died during World War II. That’s shocking, but we knew that. The other thing is the amazingly low number of people (by comparison) who have died in all conflicts since World War II.
I don’t mean to diminish the value of each human life lost in today’s wars at all. But think about how riled up we get. How would we have handled the news from World War II?
The next time you think that things can’t possibly get any worse. Think again. They can. They have been worse. Worse by a lot. And your parents or your grandparents lived through it. And what’s more, they emerged from World War II with some measure of courage, compassion, and generosity still intact.
I think WW2 warped a lot of people’s views of history, making it far more acceptable a course of action than any war ever should have. It’s a historical rarity to get such an easy to identify main villain who’s a psychopath with clear ambitions to take over the world. Ever since, all the villains (even people who are political opponents, or just ones you dislike) get compared to Hitler, and the comparisons are mostly ridiculous hyperbole.
I do like statistics and history. You know, there were many more American deaths in the Civil War than in WW2, the most important difference being the state of field medicine. More died from infections and disease than from actual wounds. The population was about 31 1/2 million in 1860, and the death rate averaged out to 420/day. By comparison, the US had about 133 1/2 million population in 1940, and that war averaged out to 297 deaths/day during a war of shorter duration.