There are a lot of numbers in the news today. Most of them are attached to negative circumstances.
With so many numbers, it’s tempting to distance ourselves from the details. In fact, we as human beings have evolved to protect ourselves, emotionally, in this way.
But there’s also danger in the distancing. Too much of it, and we risk losing the empathy that connects us to each other.
When I find myself going numb about the numbers, I allow it, just a bit, so that I can take in the news. And then, when the data-driven, fact-loving, processing side of me has finished its work, I allow myself to think of what the numbers truly represent.
And then, I’m reminded of the speech that Mr. Rogers made in 1997, when he accepted the Lifetime Achievement award at the Emmys. There are transcripts of it out there, but I find that watching him give the speech creates a greater emotional impact.
If I lose sight of what the numbers mean, I remind myself: each one, a person. Maybe not a person I know, but a person known and loved by others. A person in somebody’s heart, who comes to mind when Mr. Rogers asks us to take ten seconds of silence.