Boston has talked of nothing else. The victims' names are everywhere. Their pictures and mundane details of their lives are in the papers. Billboards memorialize them. There are memorials on street corners. We know their names, where they lived, their favorite sports teams.
The next day in Baghdad, 50 people were killed in a wave of bombings. I had to look that up, because that's a pretty normal day in Iraq.
Part of me wants to say, “Why are we treating some people's lives as so precious because of the particular way they died? Where are the memorials for the 89 Americans who die in car accidents every day? For that matter, where are the memorials for the 50 Iraqis who were blown up last week? Or the 4,000 people a day who die from unsafe water?”
But I also understand. When someone you love is hurt or gone, when the loss is not a statistic but a real person, it really does feel like the world should stop and take note. What's remarkable is that we're actually doing it this week (albeit for a small and strangely selected number of people).
I don't think we can actually go around in a perpetual state of mourning. While we're alive, the best we can do is enjoy life and work hard to be sure other people get to enjoy their lives.
But I'm taking this week as a reminder that human lives really are precious. It's harder to think about the larger, ongoing disasters. But every one of those is made of actual, precious people with faces, families, and favorite sports teams. The girl next door. Someone's son. Someone's best friend. They are priceless.