Yesterday on the radio, there was a report about the current state of the economy (when is there not???). According to the story, “more than 330,000 people filed new claims for unemployment insurance benefits last week,” and that is good news, because these numbers are at pre-recession levels. There is actually a technical term for this phenomenon: froth. Apparently economists build into their projections and prognostications a certain amount of joblessness. We have now achieved “normal froth.”
In my on-line dictionary, one of the definitions of froth is triviality. And I think of my friend who was just laid off, and I know that for that family, there is nothing normal or trivial about unemployment. And I realize that we hear these terms and the numbers that go with them and forget that every number is a person, a real person, struggling in the day-to-day, out of work, and for some, out of hope.
If I multiply my friend’s grief by 330,000, it is almost overwhelming. I think when we/I am confronted with huge calamities, I cannot take them in and so I ignore them. But today, I am thinking about 330,000 tragedies, all playing out in someone’s life. And there is nothing trivial about that….