Longreads Best of 2013: The Best Sentence I Read This Year

Catherine Cloutier is an online producer at The Boston Globe’s Boston.com.

“Life, Feinberg says, guarantees misfortune. The wolf is always at the door.”

James Oliphant’s profile of Ken Feinberg in the National Journal transformed the way I view our nation’s response to tragedy. The monetary value of a life lost to violence is rarely equal. In highly publicized events, such as the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., or the Boston Marathon bombings, private donations flood victims and their families, while victims of inner-city gang violence often do not receive enough compensation to pay for a funeral. Feinberg tries not to ponder this inequity when distributing victim compensation. He looks at the numbers, determines a method of distribution, and gets the checks out quickly. He has a job to do. It’s math, not emotion. For one week and much of the many that followed, my life and job revolved around the coverage of one of these tragedies. Reading this article, particularly lines like the one I featured, gave me perspective on that event in light of other tragedies in our country. Violence and death are constants; what’s not constant is the attention given to them.

How Much Is a Life Worth?)

James Oliphant | National Journal | August 2013 | 18 minutes (4,405 words)

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Photo: aigle_dore, Flickr

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