What if yesterday's tragic shooting of twelve soldiers at Fort Hood by a deranged Army doctor happened every single day for the next week? We'd have 84 dead. What if twelve innocents were killed every day for a month? 360 dead. A year? That would be 4,380 dead innocent people.
It would be awful.
And what if we killed twelve innocent people every single day for the next 34 years? That would be Iraq.
Americans don't know what war really means. It means death. In Iraq, even the United States government admits at least 150,000 innocent civilians – over 60% of them women and children – have been killed by American bombs. Not terrorists, American bombs.
To equal that death toll in America, you'd have to kill twelve soldiers every single day for 34 years.
Except that it wouldn't be soldiers. To equal Iraq, you'd have to make eight of the twelve be women and children, every single day, for 34 years.
Or put it another way: For every soldier who died at Fort Hood yesterday, there are 12,500 dead Iraqi civilians. For every American brother, sister, mother, father, wife, husband, child, or friend, the death of their loved one is an unmitigated tragedy, a sadness that will be with them forever. And for each one of them, there are 12,500 Iraqi brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, children, and friends who also mourn the death of a loved one, the tragic loss of a human spirit that was snuffed out by an American bomb.
Humans don't seem capable of understanding large numbers. We gasp in horror when a little girl is kidnapped in Florida, but yawn when ten thousand civilians are killed in an invasion. We're glued to the TV set when OJ is on trial for murdering one woman, but don't care a bit that 400,000 Americans die from tobacco each year.
So when twelve soldiers are killed in one day, I hope it can remind us of the true tragedy we're inflicting in Iraq. To us, 150,000 is beyond our grasp, just a big number, a statistic. But to some little girl in Iraq whose mother was just killed by a brick from a bomb blast, it's her entire whole world.
My heart goes out to the families of those who died yesterday. This tragedy reminds us just how precious life is, and how tragic a death is of someone in the prime of life. And I hope it also reminds us of the magnitude of what we've done in Iraq.