I came across this little article in the New York Times a week ago.
I had several reactions. My first of course was sympathy for the victims whose lives had been cut short by the falling trees, and for their families whose lives had been forever changed by these random events.
Next, I was a bit perplexed that the Times would even bother to cover such a thing. While 12 folks killed by trees in a 2 month period might seem like a large number, as I pointed out in a tweet, how many folks had been killed by guns in that same period–or by any other means of violence?
Or for that matter, how many folks had been the victims of auto accidents? Of drunk drivers? Of domestic violence?
New York City is a city of 8 million folks. 12 people is not even enough to fit on the tip of a pin, statistically speaking (although please understand that I do not in any way wish to diminish the significance of their lives).
And while it could be argued that better tree maintenance might have prevented some of these accidents, so too could it be argued that many, if not all of the above types of deaths that I have named above could have been avoided.
The “randomness” of death was demonstrated again last week when a promising young woman’s career and life was cut short after she fell to her death after her balcony railing gave way. Again, the Times covered that story, but in a much more measured way (at least in my opinion).
Unfortunately being out of doors, where ever we are, involves risk. For some, it’s as simple as a bee sting allergy. For others, it’s like a lightning bolt out of the blue, like a falling tree.
Oh, and yes, I didn’t mention weather. What about lightning? Talk about a “random” killer. Or maybe not.