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Proportional Responses:

It seems to me that when we examine tragedies and appropriate responses to them, we ought to design responses that are proportional to the problem. For example, if one person dies per year of marijuana usage and over 440,000 people die of tobacco (cigarette smoking), our national response ought to be related to these numbers.

So, let’s take a look at annual causes of death of Americans since September 11, 2001.

Deaths per Year:

By cigarette smoking: 440,000

In auto accidents: (117 per day) 43,000

(By alcohol consumption)

By handgun homicides: 26,000

By poor medical care: 8,000 – 10,000

(deaths that could have been prevented)

By terrorist attacks – four year average: 750 (3,000 in 2001)

By foreign wars: Iraq 366

(nearly 1500 to date in 3 years)

And if we were concerned about global tragedies on an annual basis we could add:

Deaths per year:

By starvation, malnutrition: 7,300,000

(approximately 20,000 children per day)

By American “wars of liberation:” 25,000

(i.e. Iraqi deaths 100,000 ÷ four years)

Let’s take a look at some of our responses to these national and international tragedies:

Our response to the carnage caused by handgun deaths on our streets – carnage far worse than September 11 every year. Our response? Repeal the ban on assault weapons. A truly rational move by our government!

Our response to an attack on our September 11 Twin Towers by an inter-world terrorists organization – mostly Saudis? Attack and invade a country that had nothing to do with the Twin Towers-Pentagon attacks. Then spend over $200 billion – much of which goes to American private industries – rebuilding the non-enemy we attacked. A rational response?

Or what about our response to poverty, malnutrition, starvation, and the deaths of more than 20,000 children per day in the world? Our response? To increase military spending, build more arms and sell them all over the world so that the arms industries can make enormous profits. Of the major industrial nations providing support for health, education, and other positive social benefits to third world countries, the U.S. percentage of the national budget ranks at the bottom. A rational response?

And what of the fact that African Americans as a group suffer far greater deaths each year from a lack of medical care than whites? These are preventable deaths – 90,000 per year from 1991 to 2000! Our response? Provide tax cuts for the wealthy – predominantly white males! Provide tax cuts for the wealthiest 1% and tell low income African American families that we lack the funds to provide them with the same medical care we provide upper class whites. A compassionate response?

Why, I wonder, do I become so angry at these obvious injustices and yet our elected members of Congress and the Senate seem to lack this anger and the concomitant will to do something about it?Apparently, many Americans feel angry about gay couples’ wishes to live together with all the blessings of marriage and civil rights. Yet they seem to feel less anger over children unnecessarily dying of poor medical care, or being shot in our own streets with handguns, or starving to death in Third World countries. Anger can be a motivator to action, but for God’s sake – literally and figuratively – let’s direct our anger at where Jesus or any rational, sane human being would want it directed!

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