Before I tell you how to properly react to terrorism, let me share an example of how not to react. Recently, neocon pundit Erik Erikson wrote this on his blog:
I’m really glad I didn’t get tickets on opening day to see Star Wars. Seriously.Erik here is so frighten of the terrorists that he’s refusing to watch the new Star Wars movie on opening day.
I have no confidence in this Administration to keep us all safe, particularly in light of President Obama’s statement today that there’s really no way to stop this stuff.
There are no metal detectors at American theaters.
I think I’ll wait till Star Wars is less a threat scenario.
But that’s exactly what the terrorists want!
You see, the reason why we call these people “terrorists” is that, well, they want to instill terror in others. They want to terrify people. So when folks like Erik get terrified, they’ve pretty much helped the terrorists achieve their goal.
Yes, the most recent terrorist attack was terrifying. Yes, something like that could easily happen over here. And yes, there is a slight possibility that you may end up dying in a terrorist attack.
But do you know what you’re more likely to die from? Being crushed by your own furniture. Being struck by lightning. Drowning in your own bath tub. You’re more likely to die from any of that, but I’m sure that’s not going to stop you from taking a bath or buying furniture, right? (And if it is, then you probably should seek help!)
Thing is, we shouldn’t let what may or may not kill us dictate how we live our life. Living in fear simply isn't living: it's surviving! That especially includes the threat (or non-threat) of terrorism. Because if we let terrorism scare us, then as the old saying goes, the terrorists truly have won.
Instead of reacting like Erik, we should rather follow the advice of security expert and blogger, Bruce Schneier:
But our job is to remain steadfast in the face of terror, to refuse to be terrorized. Our job is to not panic every time two Muslims stand together checking their watches. There are approximately 1 billion Muslims in the world, a large percentage of them not Arab, and about 320 million Arabs in the Middle East, the overwhelming majority of them not terrorists. Our job is to think critically and rationally, and to ignore the cacophony of other interests trying to use terrorism to advance political careers or increase a television show's viewership.
The surest defense against terrorism is to refuse to be terrorized. Our job is to recognize that terrorism is just one of the risks we face, and not a particularly common one at that. And our job is to fight those politicians who use fear as an excuse to take away our liberties and promote security theater that wastes money and doesn't make us any safer.