It is time to end Fear. It’s time for America to find some perspective.
34 people - US deaths last year from dog bites.
29 people - US deaths last year from lightning strikes.
15 people - US private citizen deaths last year from terrorism, most all of them in Afghanistan.
Compare/contrast this with:
13,186 people - Worldwide private citizen deaths last year from terrorism.
What does this tell us?
What it tells us is that (A) our Federal national security apparatus is doing a great job; (B) we ARE protected & living in relative secure & safe times, and (C) life in these United States is NOT as dangerous as as past administrations and a sensationalizing media would have us believe.
We are coming up on the 10th anniversary of the attack on The World Trade Center in Manhattan, “9/11”, a heart-wrenching & momentous day within living American history. The tenth anniversary will likely be a difficult emotional day for many many Americans.
But one thing these numbers tell us is that we do NOT have to live in Fear.
And many Americans have been living in Fear. Fear of being attacked. Fear of foreigners. Fear of invasion. Fear of people “not like us”. Fear of flying. Fear of being in large American cities. Fear of being a target.
WE DO NOT HAVE TO LIVE IN FEAR.
Some, many perhaps, have reacted to 9/11 with anger, with resentment, with rage. These emotional reactions are understandable.
My concern — my fear — lay in the way strong emotive states can be fed upon, nurtured & manipulated.
Fear & Anger are two of the prime emotions. They go way way waaaaaaaaay back into our genetic code. They come to us from our ancient ancestors, from prehistory, from pre-human forms & ways of being. Fear & Anger are “primal”.
And because they are SOOOO deeply rooted, these two states in particular short-circuit higher brain function. It is hard to be rational in a State of Fear. It is hard to be reasonable in a State of Anger.
And the media MANIPULATES this.
So do governments. [The past US one did so heavily.]
But modern societies need clear & reasoned rational thought.
It is a challenge to be clear & reasoned, rational — to THINK! — in a media culture that foments Fear & Anger.
THAT is the real challenge.
Life involves risk.
You cannot be alive in this world without having to confront a certain amount of risk.
Risk is PART of Life.
But not all risks are equal.
Terrorism, yes, IS a serious world problem right now. Unfortunately, yes, it is a part of our contemporary world that, yes, we do have to deal with.
But let us get some perspective on the nature of the domestic risk of terrorism.
Will terrorists strike again within the bounds of the United States? Probably. Will events like 9/11 happen to the people of the United States again? It is hard to say, but, yes, the possibility IS there; the probability of that, however, is hard to know.
Given these kinds of relative numbers, though — 34 US deaths last year from dog bites — 29 US deaths from being struck by lightning — and only 15 private US citizen deaths from terrorism, most all of those happening OUTSIDE the United States?
Given these kinds of relative numbers, it seems more important that we focus, say, on the 18,000 CHILDREN who die EVERY DAY from hunger.
18,000 kids. Every single day. Dying from not having enough food to eat.
I am sorry, folks… But THAT kind of statistic makes it clear that terrorism is NOT the biggest problem facing us right now.
And maybe — if we stopped to think — we might realize that if more children had enough food to keep them alive? Maybe then their parents would not be so desperate that they think they have to resort to terrorism in order to be heard or to affect any kind of political change. I mean… THINK about it… What would YOU do if you watched your baby dying because there was not enough food around to keep it alive?
There ARE ways to think about the problems & challenging the world.
And we do not have to resort to extremism ourselves in the face of other people doing desperate acts of willful destruction.
We need to see ourselves clearly.
And we need to realize that there are ways to THINK about these things without submitting to emotional blindness.
I have been meditating quite a bit again recently on my own death, which seems quite a bit close.
It isn’t just the seasonal ritual death of “Old Man Winter” (as personified by “Santa Claus” or whatever, take your pick). Even my dreams wake me with constant reminder. When a thought invades your waking days and wakes you up at night, it is time to take notice.
I intuitively feel that I won’t be around for more than another year or two. It’s irrational. Just a gut feeling. And?