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where to put the effort

Joseph Stalin said

One death is a tragedy; a million is a statistic.


He hit upon a real truth. Psychologically we start to turn off our empathy when the body count rises above two, as I recall. A very small number. We can't cope with large numbers. We can't comprehend them.

So it is with all of the causes crying for attention in my inbox. I try to focus, to pay attention, to each one, but as time goes on it blurs and I frequently delete delete delete without even reading. It's especially distressing when the mail is from

savedarfur.org
aspca
couragecampaign.org
wilderness society (polar bears recently)
one.org
oxfam america

and it goes on and on. There are so many critical needs. I am awash in them. And I admit I am not hopping on any trains or planes to help any of them. The most I do is sign petitions, write letters, send money. And I don't do that often enough. Yet at the same time I recognize that because drawing attention to a subject is so easy and inexpensive with email and websites and with petitions automated so all you have to do is click a button, the messages we send are not as loud as we might hope. It's harder, even though it's easier, to get someone's attention.

I struggle with how to divide my efforts. I will probably continue as I have, grabbing at causes somewhat randomly, focusing my efforts more on saving people and animals from real danger than on letting people know what McCain actually said back then. At the same time my sense of justice is such that I support all efforts at impeachment, thinking of the larger goal: an understanding that nobody is above the law, a realization that actions have consequences. Impeachment proceedings should also put more emphasis on U.S.-sponsored torture and raise awareness that this country does not tolerate it.

I don't consider other "causes" less important. They are just, right now, less important to me.

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