I can’t remember whether it was while I was listening to yesterday afternoon’s marketplace podcast or this morning’s radio reporting, but I heard an interview with a Parish President from Coastal Louisiana. Having rode out Katrina, he cited several ways Isaac was already worse in his area than Katrina was.
Home from my walk, I opened my paper to find an article comparing Isaac to Katrina. Briefly, the point was that Isaac is no Katrina. A quick Google of “Isaac Katrina comparison” told me that comparing the 2 is apparently all the rage.
I can tell you now that everyone who is more affected by Isaac will conclude it is a worse storm than Katrina. They have every right to do so. It’s kind of like the unemployment rate doesn’t sound as bad if you have a job.
A good thing to remember in our age of continuous information and growing population is that such comparisons and data tend to take the macro view. You and I, though, experience life at the micro level.
The best use of comparisons at the micro, or personal level, is not to get into a contest of whose life is better or whose tragedy was greater, but as tools to help us develop empathy for what the other is facing right now.
Whether an experience I had a year ago that is similar to what you are facing right now was greater or less is really irrelevant. Each of us faces issues and challenges every day that are enough (or more) for the day.
If what you are experiencing today is too heavy, I can help carry it. If what you are carrying today is light, you won’t have to look too far to fiend someone who could use a little help.
If that sounds like a message you’ve heard set to music, yeah, that thought just struck me, too.