Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Mr. Couch is not the first person to go flying in a lawn chair. That honor goes to Larry Walters who, in 1982 flew for a distance of only about ten miles but acheived an altitude of three miles on a lawnchair to which he'd attached forty five weather balloons. This put him up where the airplanes fly, and two pilots radioed air traffic control to report seeing a man flying on a chair. The FAA took this seriously and immdediately reported that they would charge him "as soon as we figure out which part [of the FAA code] he violated." [Check his story out here.]
I've written this before and will no doubt come back to this theme again: we live in a wonderful world.
I suppose it's important for us to know about these numbers. They help us to understand what's called "the human cost" of our species' penchant for violence. And if we can think of them as people and not just numbers, perhaps our hearts will be moved to really work for peace. (Remember Stalin's famous remark, "The death of one person is a tragedy; the death of millions is a statistic.")
Yet it seems to me that if we need to know these numbers, there are some other numbers we should know as well:
- The number of children who died since yesterday because of a lack of access to healthcare;
- The number of people of color who were harrassed and arrested simply because of the color of their skin and a police officer's assumptions about that;
- The number of gay, lesbian, and transgender kids who were taunted, shunned, and even beaten just for being who they are;
- The number of alcoholics who lived one more day of sobriety;
- The number of stressed out, overworked parents who didn't hit their kids;
- The number of people facing seemingly impossible odds who made a decision to change their lives . . . and began to act on it;
- The number of acts of kindness performed without thought to recompense;
- The number of strangers who became friends;
- The number of people who's lives were saved by acts of love
Surely there are many numbers we need to know about in order to make sense out of the world we live in. And, as it's often been noted, what we choose to make the focus of our attention helps determine our experience of that world. So next time you "do the numbers," think carefully about what numbers you do.