Posts Tagged ‘death’

Lost Children

I’ve been to a few – and any is too many – funerals of and memorials for children. One often hears at such at such moments is the comment that this death is particularly wrenching, because it is “unnatural” for a parent to bury a child; it is “not the way of the world.”


The social historian knows, of course, that parents burying children is all too “natural” in much of the the world today. In many African countries over 1 in 10 babies dies in the first year of life. And it was all too much “the way of the world” in the United States until recently. Only in the last couple of generations has that terrible experience become so rare in America as to feel “unnatural.”


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Shaken but Secure

The horrific images from the Japanese earthquake-tsunami have probably shaken everyone’s confidence. When a nation so modern – so modern that its technology is considered cutting edge – is knocked down so badly, with thousands of citizens dead and many more left in the cold dark for days, with food running short, communities isolated, and anxieties about a nuclear energy threat, the rest of us can only wonder how secure we are.

STR/AFP/Getty Images

The anxiety will pass. The worst of tragedies – like the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami which killed 230,000 people and the 2008 earthquake in China which took 68,000 lives – pass into vague memory as we go about our daily lives. (The public’s amnesia for natural disasters drives emergency preparedness experts batty.) But the experience at the moment creates a sort of historical flashback to an era when it was a lot harder to feel secure, when insecurity was the norm.


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