The Tragedy of being the Statistic

The Tragedy of being the Statistic

Breaking News. Happening now . . . and the world is going crazy, in a panic or in deep mourning. A ‘famous’ person or a ‘household’ name in some houses has just passed. Tragedy struck and they’ve succumbed. Soon will come the thousands of heartfelt messages so deeply personalized even by a wide number of people who did not know the person. 

This person’s name will be mentioned but in the event, he or she was among others, the others, will, unfortunately, be a mere statistic. ‘Sending my sincere condolences to the family of …. and the others who perished’. This last week of January happens to have one of those sad days. 9 people perish in a helicopter crash. 5 families mourn deeply some having lost more than 1 person and I can only imagine how terribly crushing that can be.

One loss is enough to keep you spinning on the spot for days and completely reset your life’s trajectory. But to lose 2 or more all at once or close to each other? I cannot begin to fathom. Of the 9, the majority of us are only talking about 1 father and daughter. The Bryant family. I believe they are amazing people and should be celebrated accordingly. However, my heart particularly goes out to those who often go unmentioned because their pain runs just as deep. The Zobayans, The Altobelli’s, The Chester’s and The Mauser’s.

A dear friend of mine reached out to me asking if I was in the know about the latest news on the legend. This lead to a conversation that left me feeling so glad that they are more people out there who think about the people who are rarely thought about in such unfortunate events. One of the observations was, just how many people suddenly know this man and are talking beautiful things about him. Where was all this noise when he was alive? Was he appreciated in this same way every day? Half of us probably would not have known who he is or was.

Secondly, a montage surfaced of the victims complete with name and photo except for the pilot who at the time of that release was reduced to an avatar and ‘unidentified pilot’ for a name. Woah! I do not believe there is an emoji that appropriately demonstrates my facial expression when I read that. Neither can I imagine what his family feels when reading such. Third observation. In a couple of hours, Byrant literally gained thousands of followers. Hellow! You do realize he won’t be posting any more updates at least not in the way we’d hope him to. The question is where were you before?

Back to my unmentioned people. Not so long ago, the Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 crashed leaving no single one of the 157 alive. Someone shared the ‘breaking news’ and managed to list a number of people who per society were considered ‘prominent’ and worth mentioning then the rest were among the ‘others’.  For some reason, I felt terribly pained for the others’ families. And since I happen to have known the writer, I messaged them and asked ‘do you realize that plane had another over 100 people and some families lost multiple people? Would it not have been better to publish the entire flight manifesto because I know you can access it or at least if not just maintain the number’. The person said ‘I hear you but that would not be news. It does not sale‘. That sounded to me like Condolences to X and Y the rest of you if you think you are affected feel tagged. Those people have people who are deeply hurting too and the least we can do is be sensitive at how we approach such matters because the effects are far and wide-reaching.

Months later, after this incident, 3 prominent persons succumb to cancer (trust me I hate this word). These people died within short periods of each other and suddenly it’s a national issue. Let’s declare this a national disaster. Everyone is talking about it and updating their status with pictures and messages to the deceased’s families which is great and really kind. At the time, It took me so much grace not hold my hands to my ears and scream shut up! Most of you know nothing and have no real concern for this because if we all did we would have done something long ago. We would do better. We owe it to those gone ahead, ourselves and future generations.

This talking is not helping anybody. Can we reduce the cost of treatment for real? Make it fully covered? Ensure the screening is part of national policy and people need not pay for it? Swing all this talk into action? Can we ensure we take care of the quality of food, medicine, and the environment? Monitor and evaluate what’s working and actually do it. My question was, why is this suddenly an urgent conversation now? Were are we usually hiding before because trust me that fire from the media died a month or so after. So what now?

Sitting in the office at the time that news broke out, I just span around on my chair as colleagues chatted about it and how well does the issue of cancer features in our program, how sad it is and sending out a message of condolences. At the time, I was working on an event within the Health sector addressing cross-cutting issues. Being in charge of the program as well as moderating some sessions, I knew exactly what issues I was going to the table. Because you see unless you have walked a certain path some things are almost like mere rumors. 

When I got tired of listening I stood up stretched and said, ‘Yes. It’s very sad. While the rest of us will say our ‘poles’  (sorries) and update statuses with pictures and everything, the people in real pain here are the kids and the spouse. The immediate family. However, allow me. This is one person or maybe the 3rd prominent person. I am sure in that hospital or the ones across were declared dead around that same time for a similar condition. Who gives them attention? Is there anyone who is going to publish the full list for all of us to light our candles in prayer because yes their families are hurting too and God knows they have accrued enough medical-related bills to bury them alive. Raising from that will take a long time’. 

Who will mourn and pray for that un-identified person and their family as more than just one of the numbers beside their very own assuming they have someone? That one or many persons with just an avatar for a face? Who will light that candle, call a national prayer for all of them because they all matter and they are not just a mere statistic? Who will follow to know they do not suffer serious damage emotionally, psychologically or even spiritually?

If we are going to care for one, let us then care for all. In the Tragedy of being the Statistic, one thing reveals itself; Our capacity to truly appreciate human value is seriously flawed for we have instead mastered the art of Investment as opposed to Nurturing. One is only as important as what they can offer now or in the future. Terribly sad. 

This post will keep lit candles in kind thoughts and prayers for those who find themselves as part of the statistics as well so those who get to be identified and for both your families.