Do you ever count things? On your fingers? On your toes?
What counts in your life? Who counts in your days?
Numbers are sobering. They can tell us something as simple as how many individual apples we need for a pie, or they can represent the infinite digits that are in pi.
Numbers are endless. Numbers are boundless.
Take this scenario, for instance: if you started counting out loud from the moment you emerged to this world and drew your very first breath, you could still be ticking off digits on your deathbed. If you started a stopwatch from the moment the universe burst into existence, you would still be marking time as the entire universe faded away.
There are very few things besides numbers that have this kind of staying power…although, I would argue that 80s music will last forever.
I’m bringing all of this up, because I discovered an interesting site called Worldometers (at www.worldometers.info). According to the worldometers.info website, they show “real time world statistics.”
I’m sitting here watching the numbers tick away in a relentless progression. And, I realize as I watch, these numbers move ahead whether I watch them or not (if a tree falls in the forest…). If I’m working, they move. If I’m golfing, they move. If I’m sick in bed with food poisoning, they go on and on and on. They are blind to my personality. They are indifferent to my preference. However, they are acutely aware of my significance. My statistical significance, as it were.
Take this mental journey with me for a moment. A person sits in his home, dwelling in a city, located in a state in the United Stated that is in a hemisphere, on a planet, in a galaxy that resides in some small corner of a vast universe. If that person is not aware of his incredible surroundings, he may come to believe that his is the most preferable of all available life forms or identities — that the most important religious practice, philosophical point-of-view, job, political party, or national allegiance belongs to him alone. This person may come to believe that the way he does what he does is the way all things should be done.
But how can this possibly be the case?
If this person opens his mind to a higher perspective he may discover that the life he lives is nothing more than a series of preferences that is inextricably linked to others.
But how? How are they linked?
Just look at the numbers. Surf over to worldometers.info. Species that are lost anywhere are lost to us all. The life of the person who dies from hunger in Asia holds the same value as a person who starves to death in Africa. A homicide in Sri Lanka holds the same importance on a spreadsheet as one in Austria.
And, the national pride one person feels on one part of the globe will certainly be matched by another person in some other part of this spinning world. Everyone counts. Everything counts. In the world of numbers, like personal perspective, everyone and everything counts.
This isn’t an article about politics or international relations. This is about humanity. Worldometers.info only drives the point home as it ticks on into eternity.
As I stare mesmerized into these numbers, I must acknowledge again something I learned from Socrates years ago while taking a course in classical history. I must be not simply a citizen of the country where I reside, but a citizen of the world.
Socrates also reminds us that when it comes to being alive, the unexamined life is not a life worth living. This is powerful advice, especially before we undertake to judge another because of culture or accent, or value our particular worldview more than we value that of our neighbor’s.
Maybe before we get too grand in our britches, we need to surf over to worldometers.info and see that we are all really one and wonderful in our experience. If you forget that, the numbers will remind you.
After all, in the end, we all count.