Faces and Stories Change Hearts and Minds
by: John Stonestreet & G. Shane Morris for BreakPoint
A chilling quote is often attributed to Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin: “One death is a tragedy. One million deaths are a statistic.” Stalin is alleged to have said this in the days leading up to one of the largest man-made disasters and mass-murders in history: the 1932 Ukrainian famine.
It may be that the quote actually dates back even earlier, to a 1916 anarchist periodical. Either way, the line captures the awful reason that mass-murders like Stalin’s are so often overlooked or ignored while they’re happening. As the anarchist periodical explained, we tend to find the starvation of one child more shocking than the starvation of a million children because our minds are simply “unable to grasp” death on such a scale. “Suffering,” said the publication, “is so intimately personal a thing that it must be explained through the personal equation, if at all.”