If you log on to Worldometers – real time statistics you may see for yourself the clock tick up some fascinating statistics.
Some of the figures move so fast it is easier to watch the thousands digits than the hundreds or tens. The births and the deaths tick alongside each other, the births outrunning the deaths both daily and annually, thus producing a population growth of more than 66,000,000 so far this year alone.
Watching for just a few minutes makes you realise how large the sea of humanity is, that breathes on our planet.
Today you and I are just one of more than 7,187,742,500 people alive – in fact by the time you read this, that figure will be well outdated!
You will learn that so far this year there have been 868,630 suicides; 1,093,455 road traffic accident fatalities; 4,049,363 deaths caused by smoking; 6,652,719 deaths caused by cancer; 34,030,068 abortions; and in one day more than 11,000,000,000 cigarettes are smoked!
The list goes on and by the time you have read it all, it too will be outdated.
Time is short, and life is swift.
For every death and birth that clicks up on screen as a statistic, there is a family of some sort or another to which that statistic is a precious life to be celebrated or to be mourned.
This week our focus here in Ulster has been on the 20th anniversary of the Shankill bombing and the lives lost in that day’s horrific atrocity.
Indeed next week we will also be remembering what followed that event, and how many other lives were taken in the days following it, all in the name of retribution. We cannot but remember.
For those whose loved ones are taken from them by evil doers, their heart’s cry is eloquently put in the words, “Is it nothing to you, all ye who pass by?”
The statistics of our Troubles may be read in the thousands by world observers, but they are lived in single digits by each family, not just once, but daily.
Set alongside this long-lived-in state of remembering for each bereaved family, the wilful glorification of the wrongdoing which propelled them into that place for the rest of their lives, and you have nothing less than another deliberate act of premeditated wrongdoing.
That too becomes remembered, and one dreadful hurt compounds the other, closing tighter the gateway to lasting peace.
We are all learning that it is in these years following our darkest days our hardest choices have to be made.
Choices that call terrorism not only for what it was, but also for what it still seeks to be – a vestige of its own horror.
While we have moved remarkably far as a Province, the thorny issue of how we remember has the potential of igniting a flame that will not be easily quenched.
It will lick at the heels of yet another generation.