Sixty-Three Million

Gerd Altmann, Pixabay

Large numbers are hard to understand. For example, consider this number: 63,000,000. Sixty-three million. How can we put a number like that into perspective? One common technique is to put the number into the context of something more comprehensible.

If you had 63 million 12-ounce bottles of Aquafina water, you could fill up almost nine Olympic-sized pools.

63 million miles is about two-thirds of the average distance from the Earth to the sun. It’s about 264 times further than the average distance from the Earth to the moon.

63 million inches would be 5.25 million feet—about a thousand miles.

If you had 63 million gallons of gasoline, that would enough for half a million people to drive from San Francisco to New York (assuming their cars get 25 miles-per-gallon).

What if we start putting it into human terms? The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that the total U.S. population was about 331 million people as of July 2021. So 63 million people would be a bit less than twenty percent of the population.

Let’s select 63 million Americans at random—a representative cross-section of America. 11.6 million of them have Hispanic or Latino ethnicity (which is categorized separately from race in census data). 48 million are white, 8.4 million black, and 3.7 million Asian. About 20 million of them have at least a bachelor’s degree. They are about 32 million women and 31 million men.

In this set are the best and worst. Among them are murderers, rapists, and robbers. Also among them are doctors, artists, and inventors. They are the workers who picked up your trash, the entertainers who made your favorite movie, the best teacher you ever had, the teen that made your Big Mac, the guy you argued with on Twitter, and the friend who comforted you in your darkest hour.

Imagine how much less our nation would be if they all just . . . disappeared. Imagine how much light and leaven would have gone out of the world if we erased any 63 million people from our national history.

How much love, art, invention, and philosophy would have been lost? How many cures for how many diseases? How many ideas never expressed? How many solutions to how many problems? How many late-night talks, thought-provoking videos, and hilarious hijinks? How many lectures, books, films, and songs? How many hugs?

The tragedy would compound further. Some of those lost people might have written songs, and others might have had songs written about them. Not only would we have lost their direct contributions, but we would have lost the things they were going to inspire in others, and so-on down through their erased posterity.

Losing 63 million Americans would be a calamity with no parallel in human history. It would be an incalculable horror . . . worse than the Black Death, worse than the famines and gulags of Communism, worse than the Holocaust, worse than the all the earthquakes and hurricanes and tsunamis and other natural disasters combined. It would be the equivalent of 2,625 years’ worth of American homicides.

But if we never knew any of those 63 million people in the first place, if they had been snuffed out early enough, we would feel nothing. There would be no mourning. There would be no monuments. There would be no mention in the history books. We would just carry on, ignorant of the fact that our world could have been so much brighter than it is.

We would never even know what we had lost.

There have been over 63 million abortions in the United States since 1973.

Scott Bradford is a writer and technologist who has been putting his opinions online since 1995. He believes in three inviolable human rights: life, liberty, and property. He is a Catholic Christian who worships the trinitarian God described in the Nicene Creed. Scott is a husband, nerd, pet lover, and AMC/Jeep enthusiast with a B.S. degree in public administration from George Mason University.