Face Behind The Number

When you have lived for a long time in close contact with the loss and grief which today pervades the world, any personal sorrow seems to be lost in the general sadness of humanity. — Eleanor Roosevelt.

Eleanor certainly saw her share of humanity’s general sadness, and experienced personal sorrow on several fronts. She wrote the above in her daybook right after the death of FDR. Lately, I’ve been thinking about her words during this virus. We seem to be lost in numbers — hospitalizations, number of cases, and death, and the numbers of dead and sick are overwhelming. But we can’t lose sight of the “personal sorrow” each number represents. Each statistic is a human with family and friends and their sorrow is real.

Perhaps if we focus a little bit less on the numbers and a little bit more on the face behind each number, we will be a little less self-centered about how the virus affects us, and a little more willing to sacrifice for that human face behind the number.

What do you think?

About the author

Webb Hubbell is the former Associate Attorney General of The United States. His novels, When Men Betray, Ginger Snaps, A Game of Inches, The Eighteenth Green, and The East End are published by Beaufort Books and are available online or at your local bookstore. When Men Betray won one of the IndieFab awards for best novel in 2014. Ginger Snaps and The Eighteenth Green won the IPPY Awards Gold Medal for best suspense/thriller. His latest, “Light of Day” will be on the bookstands soon.


  1. I am reminded of the ‘death squad’ charge about the quality of life provisions in the draft ACA plan. I thought it was one of the more enlightened approaches to largely abandoned elderly patients enduring a miserable existence.
    A compassionate approach derailed by ridiculous distortions; after the 2016 election that modus operandi became the soup de jour!

  2. I agree, Webb… the faces and individual stories of loss and pain get lost with the focus on numbers and get trampled under the denial and claims of hoax. Thank you for this, ,Webb.

  3. It’s especially true since so many people still claim that personally they know of no one who has died of the virus., which seems amazing to me. So, they hear the statistics and it stops there. They are incapable of–I hate to use this overused word–empathy. They can’t put themselves into another person’s shoes, much less see a number as a human being.

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