158 Dead in NYC

If you know anyone who died in today’s attack in New York, please do NOT read the rest of this post.

158 people died in New York today. That’s assuming this is a typical day, based on city statistics. We are talking about a city of 8.5 million people.

It’s where I was born. It’s the only place that will ever truly be home. And having grown up there, I have fully internalized the vastness of the place.

Seventh Avenue, NYC. Photo by Judd Weiss.

Why am I supposed to be panicked for my friends because eight of today’s deaths came in a terrorist attack? Why am I, if I don’t know the victims, supposed to be heartbroken? I don’t mean to diminish the grief of those who actually knew those eight people. But it does not diminish the sadness of these eight deaths to note that other deaths are equally sad.

Someone, somewhere in New York, died of cancer today.

Someone died of heart disease.

Someone died by his or her own hand.

Quite likely, someone died by someone else’s hand, other than in this attack.

Every death involves great sadness, either because a human being has died or because of the situation that makes his death a relief. Let us feel as much sorrow for the eight as for any others among the 158, but not more. Not more.

The only thing that makes these eight stand out to those of us who have never seen their faces or heard their names is that a terrorist killed them. When we let terrorists dominate our hearts with pain and fear, we hand them victories. We build up the narrative that the terrorists are powerful, and we thereby give them power.

I say no.

I say the city I love is bigger than this. I say an average day’s deaths have more sadness than this.

Fuck the terrorists.