To save man from the morass of propaganda, in my opinion, is one of the chief aims of education. Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction

Martin Luther King (1957-1968)

The Maroon (Morehouse College Student Paper), 1947

Death By Numbers

This pair worksheet sprang into existence as part of writing Death By Television. I felt the media was bombarding me with figures about aid and re-enforcing the worldview that developed countries are benign. There may be instances of benignness but a truer reality is looting, pollution and support for death on a massive scale.

Numbers are slippery beasts. The numbers contained in this worksheet boggle the mind. Certainly many of my students were surprised by the figures and their implications. But at the same time they can create a kind of numbness. No number can stand in for real flesh and blood. Thinking in numbers almost certainly helps planners get away with murder. Statistics don't scream.

I hope the worksheet is self explanatory. Students read statements to each other and swap numbers to go with them. No right answers are given. The purpose is to get the students thinking about the numbers. Many students may have no idea about which number goes with which statement and will need to discuss and guess. .Students who want to confirm their guesses can use the web references provided to check.

Off course there remains the large issue. Once we are aware of these numbers what do we do about it? If we accept that governments have the right to kill and the right to plan to do so, do we not become in the words of Ward Churchill, "little Eichmanns"?

Eichmann did not personally kill anyone. He just facilitated murder. If we do not do what is in own own personal power to resist war then how are we significantly different?

Jesus told the parable of the importance of removing the beam from our own eye before attempting to tackle the splinter in the eye of another. Perhaps the same goes for brandishing weapons as well? If weapons of mass destruction are a real concern wouldn't it make sense to work for the removal of all of them?

getfile: Death BY Numbers

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