Local school districts are closing schools in response to even a single case of Swine flu. Irresponsible news reporters ask questions about pork producers being investigated (!), or, better still, prosecuted (!!) only to be disappointed in the response by Federal Officials that "Swine flu is not a food-borne illness." Our church and our grocery store have prominently displayed signage related to their response to Swine flu and super-sized tubs of alcohol-based hand sanitizers available for use. And in the midst of this flurry, our Middle Child makes the statement, "Sheesh! There are only like five people in the hospital with that stuff. I don't know why everyone is making such a big deal about it."
Whoa. While I agree that there is an awful lot of press being given to what looks more like a dog and pony show of an outbreak than the three-ring panic circus being reported, it was disturbing to hear our girlie speak dismissively of anyone's illness because there were not sufficient numbers to impress her. I asked her how many people lived in our home. "Uh... five?" Understanding dawned quickly in her eyes, but it seemed reasonable to follow our subject. "So, would you still consider it unimportant if the five people hospitalized were us? Or maybe just five random people from our extended family or church? Does five still seem like a measly number when put into that context?" (The questions were put to Miss Kate in a gentle tone because the subject matter was sufficient to freak her out without it being presented as a hostile challenge.) Hopefully, our sweet girlie will be more aware in the future that just because something does not apply to her personally, it is not necessary to make light of others' misfortune or difficulty.