Tag Archives: charles sullenberger

Put faces to the numbers

I may have mentioned before that I go for a long walk each day during my lunch hour. I have a few podcasts I listen to during the week as I walk (Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!, Prime Time Sports, 60 Minutes, and occasionally some others). A couple of weeks ago there was a segment on 60 Minutes about Flight 1549, Captain Chesley Burnett “Sully” Sullenberger III, and his crew. It was quite a moving piece, but one part of it particularly stuck out. When talking about how everyone survived, Captain Sullenberger said this:

You know, 155 is a number, but when you can put faces to it and not just 155 faces but the other faces, the wives, the daughters, the sons, the fathers, the mothers, the brothers, it gets to be a pretty big number pretty quickly.
60 Minutes podcast. Flight 1549: An Emotional Reunion [online]. [Accessed 20 February 2009]. 2009. Available from World Wide Web: [Podcast]

In the Church, as in essentially all other organizations, the only way to measure progress is with numbers. Sometimes we focus on this number, or that number, but it still comes down to a number. What was our sacrament meeting attendance? How many baptisms have we had this year? What was our home teaching percentage? We need to often remind ourselves that those numbers do, indeed, represent people. Captain Sully and his crew expertly maneuvered the plane and got the passengers out, and 155 people were saved. But the impact of what they did is far greater than that. It has affected hundreds of people directly, and probably thousands, maybe even millions of people, more. The same goes for our service in the Church. Whether in a calling, or as a home and visiting teacher, we may be only working with a certain person, or a small group of people, but the effects of our work can affect dozens more and can last for generations. It is a humbling, but inspiring thought!