Details matter

Few things put life’s daily conflicts into perspective like a national tragedy. Against the incalculable loss and suffering of September 11, ethical quandaries facing journalists or an ambitious city’s expansion plans just don’t seem quite as important anymore.

They are the minutiae of daily life, the stuff of middle-of-the-newspaper headlines before the world changed, news you could either take or leave. It wasn’t thrust upon you like a terrorist attack, or our nation’s military response, or the possibility that those two acts will cycle on indefinitely.

Yet it was those small headlines of recent years that presaged our plight: another Palestinian youth killed by an Israeli soldier, another American bombing spate over Iraq, another study on terrorism, another story about poverty.

In other words, details matter.

In that context, “Elk Grove Erupts” can be read as more than a conflict over growth and local control, but a struggle between the short-term interests of the few and the long-term interests of the many. “Why the Bee Stings” can be about Dan Walters’ speaking fees, or the credibility of the media that we rely on to form our opinions of current events.

Or if pressing issues of war are making it hard for you to analyze the details and find patterns right now, then read "This is Only a Drill" to see if Sacramento is ready for a terrorist attack. But whatever you do, keep reading and thinking.