This is the way your brain works.
I’m in Disney World, the fulfillment of a 16th birthday promise to my daughter. Amidst the raucous gaiety of roller-coasters, stroller jams and spontaneous parades, it got to be lunch time. I chose the barbecue stand while the girls went in search of pizza.
At Disney, all of the servers and staff are “cast members” and they all wear badges with their town and country of origin. It just so happens the young girl taking my order, let’s call her A, was from Haiti.
It seemed rude not to ask, so I asked, “Is your family OK?”
All she said, her voice falling almost to a whisper, was “Some are OK. Some are not OK.” And she looked at me with an almost bottomless sadness.
In that moment, waiting for chicken in the self-proclaimed “happiest place in the world,” I connected with the tragedy of Haiti at a visceral level, and it shook me hard. It shook me because I could feel her loss. And it shook me because I hadn’t really felt the loss of hundreds of thousands.
No matter how much you see it on TV or read it in the paper, a mass casualty is an abstraction. But the grief of one girl completely opened my heart.
The next time you write a fundraising appeal, remember that.
P.S. we’re launching an e-book soon on “behavioral economics,” which is in fact a high falutin’ way of saying that science is finally catching up to the fundamental reality of human irrationality.