Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Why so glib?

Patrick J. Kennedy characterized the effects of terrorism saying,  “Terrorism is psychological warfare.  Terrorists try to manipulate us and change our behavior by creating fear, uncertainty, and division in society.”  After 9/11 my initial reaction was like most, fear.  Having stood on the fire escape facing south watching the towers as they fell – I was shaken.  It took me nearly 12 months until things started to feel even slightly normal.  Now, some thirteen years later, my greatest fear is that I have grown cold.  

The recent string of be-headings made me very aware of how glib I had become.  One day, the news had broken that a mother had reached out to the kidnappers without success.  In a conversation with my mother regarding the news, I just flipped off my tongue, “He’ll be dead by the weekend.”  There was no feeling, no horror – just a simple calculation 1+1=2.  Where did this come from?  These men were loved. These men were brave and selfless. These men were gone.  

My fear is that after over a decade of wars, bombings, kidnappings, and be-headings, I had grown far too accustomed to this “new normal.”  Part of my post  9/11 routine has found me very attached to the news.  For example, if I wake up in the middle of the night for a bathroom break – before my head hits the pillow, I will have read every single news item that has collected in my feed.  And yes, my phone is kept nearby.  I wonder if all of this has created numbness.

After 9/11 we were all encouraged to get back to business as usual.  We were to shop, go out to eat, and get back on the subway.  We were not to allow the terrorists take away our freedom to live the life we were to live.  As the year moved on we all did just that.  However, we all clearly know now that the threat has not dissipated - the body count keeps growing.  The articles, the footage, and the pundits placing blame on the party across the aisle – we just tire of it all.

Our minds are full of details to follow, new religious sects to keep straight, and new geographies to explore and understand.  Then there are the new rules whether you travel by plane or by train.  We have to say something if we see something. We have to remember to wear easy to remove shoes when we travel.  At the end of it all, I wonder if I have been lulled into an apathetic coma or if I have run out of bandwidth and I am in overload. Or worse, that in an effort to protect myself I have stripped emotion from fact.  

When lives are lost or are in the balance, there is no room for apathy.  Diligence and a commitment to truth must be tantamount to my desire to "feel safe."  Because in reality, the feeling of safety , does not guarantee the actuality of safety.  Emiliano Salinas wisely said, "Fear is better than apathy because fear makes us do something."  Maybe the lesson learned here is not to be so afraid of fear.  Especially if we can no longer appreciate the full weight of what is upon us.  

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