There were a number of deadly attacks yesterday (Berlin, Cairo, Jordan, Turkey (multiple)), while the Aleppo tragedy is continuing and a significant part of the world is mired in disaster every day. I sometimes feel bad that I do not post more about such topics, but often I do not have a fresh perspective to offer, nor do I find it cathartic to consume my own self-righteousness, quite the contrary. I also find it problematic to elevate the commonly-shared “tragedy of the day” above the less immediately publicized tragedies. UNICEF for instance claims that three million children die each year for reasons that can be traced back to malnutrition. WHO claims that seven million deaths each year can be attributed to air pollution. Maybe those are not the correct numbers, but you cannot talk them down to anywhere near zero.
Sometimes I feel there is a kind of impossibility theorem, suggesting there is no morally appropriate response to changes in the scope of widespread tragedies. It seems wrong to be happy that “fewer people than usual suffered and died today,” also wrong to let particular upward blips in death and suffering so fully capture one’s attention because of social framing, and all the more wrong to think changes in the numbers do not matter at all. And why is hardly anyone upset about Irkutsk?
This post is not the best I can do, but it is what I have done. The image is a depiction of a long-since-gone 16th century Aleppo, by Nasuh Al-Matrakî, via Rabih Alameddine.