Hey, good morning. First of all, thank you for the great comments and private messages about Monday's post. I spend a lot of time thinking about and producing a wide range of creative content that always ties back to the consistent theme of work. Along with finding the right spectrum, ranging from choosing a work wardrobe to men's take on paternity leave, sometimes I feel self-conscious about personal story telling vs. practicality, the obvious vs. insightful, etc. All that to say: I am happy that the diet tweak resonated with many of you.
Today, I'm taking things in yet an entirely different direction, really testing this spectrum. I've had a burning desire to write about scale through a couple lenses, like scaling a business or social networks... And today, I'm going to write about scale through a sad and difficult lens: destruction.
I'm going to present "scale" via a few lenses to you, via a mini-series that will go live over the next couple Thursdays. On the surface today's article may not appear tied to work, but stay with me if you will. The common thread reveal itself as the series unfolds...
I woke up on Monday morning and was surprised to learn that the largest mass shooting in the history of the U.S. had happened overnight in Las Vegas. And I admit to you: to use the word "surprised" sounds like an understatement, but for me, it's significant. Last year, I embarrassingly admitted to a couple of close friends that shootings and terrorist attacks don't rattle me as much as I know they should.
When I realized this about myself, I was rightly alarmed that I couldn't seem to feel the pain of others in the empathetic way that I should. For goodness sake, I was one block away from the Boston Marathon attack; I heard the bomb explode and felt the ground shake, saw the FBI black cars speeding past me, and finally sprinted down the course searching for my now-husband who was running. You'd think that I'd be able to recall the personal terror on-demand.
Amidst my "what is wrong with me?" self-analysis, I realized that I was 12 years old when the Oklahoma City Bombings occurred. I was 16 during the Columbine shooting. And at 18 I watched live footage of September 11th on my high school library's TV. History-altering events that showcased the worst side of humanity began for me in fifth grade. I expect them.
For me, one of the main connections between all these is: they were attacks from afar, en masse. Not one of these mentioned killers had the courage or ambition to kill another close up, while looking into his victim's eyes. The pain was all inflicted from a distance, while some coward hid behind a veil - a detonator switch, an airplane, a gun.
Have you heard of the Trolley Dilemma? It's an ethical dilemma, posed by British philosopher Philippa Foot in the 1960s. It embarks to answer: is it more wrong to kill five people than one person?
And because I've grown up with horrible events inflicted at a distance, the secondary question posed at the very end has always intrigued me more than the first:
Why does it feel less wrong to kill one or five people by flipping a switch - at a distance - than it does to kill one person by physically touching him, pushing him into the trolley tracks?
When you take away weapons of mass destruction or even the keyboard courage that some feel when they're hiding behind the veil of social media, it is difficult to do wrong to another. It is morally, mentally, and physically more difficult. Whether we're talking about life and death or an internet troll, take away the wrong-doer's distance, and (s)he would never EVER have the courage to perform the same heinous act up close - if forced to look into the eyes of a fellow human being.
photo via Studio 21 Tattoo
video via BBC Radio 4