As I write this, the death toll continues to climb.
It is Thursday evening, the time I set aside to write my column every week, and I have been watching the reports on the number of dead from a suicide bombing in Pakistan increase all day long.
During the 10-minute break during my feature writing class, the death toll was 93. After classes and before my walk home, reports confirmed 110 deaths. Following the chili dinner my roommate cooked, 136, with countless injured.
My day remained unchanged, like any other Thursday, while the day of hundreds of others was dramatically and suddenly transformed.
At around midnight, half a world away, a bomb exploded on the busy streets of Karachi, Pakistan during a peaceful procession welcoming home former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto from an eight-year self-imposed exile. Even with a police motorcade and other security details, Bhutto’s party, the Pakistan People’s Party, was unable to deter attacks.
In total, 136 people died in the assault, and over 300 were injured, making it among the top 10 deadliest terror attacks in nine years.
The media has shown us scenes of death before and our overexposure to these horrific tragedies has left a lot of us too numb to respond. As difficult as it is to say, events like these make up the bulk of the news we receive and death figures become less and less sensitized to us every time we see a new one.
Though 136 is just a number to us on the outside, think of the thousands of family members and friends affected by the loss of individual human life. The impact of the deaths of these human beings is just as great and horrific as the little death we have been exposed to firsthand in our lives.
Following the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, our national community came together and mourned. Pop stars sang as the names of victims were read, movies were made and people grieved. Children of firefighters lost in rescue efforts received scholarships and families were given extraordinary compensation. These are all wonderful deeds, celebrating the lives of the people that died, but there won’t be anything like this for the 136 in Pakistan.
It is wrong to compare a national tragedy to something that occurred abroad, in a region riddled with political and social unrest, but it is difficult to see the deaths of 136 people turn systematically into a statistic for a news report.
What many of us fail to process is that 136 is not simply a number. 136 people are 136 lives, each with families, jobs, emotions, memories and each destroyed, becoming the number we see on the news.
There is a huge disconnect from the lives we live as college students in a beautiful community in California from the lives of billions of others across the globe. Death tolls like Pakistan’s 136 fill our newspapers and we remain unchanged.
As critical as I am about what happens in the United States, I still can’t take for granted the life I am able to have here. I spent far too much time thinking of myself, my grades, my friends, my future, my life and too little time stepping back and gaining some perspective.
What happened in Pakistan is horrific. The deaths of 136 people did not directly affect me. However, the more I consider what happened on Thursday evening, the more motivated I am to be thankful and appreciate my really un-normal “normal” life.
Yes, we each have our own problems. Who doesn’t? But next time we worry about a big midterm, a fender bender or trouble with a friend, we should attempt to realize how fortunate we really are. It shouldn’t take tragedies like these to put everything in perspective.
Taylor Moore is a journalism senior and a Mustang Daily columnist.