I have a different strategy. It is not for everyone, but I believe it is honest and politically safe. Let us take away the most powerful weapon the terrorists have: Fear. Be less afraid of terrorism. Make it your personal project not to fear terrorism, and not to let the fear that remains influence your life. Don’t panic over newspaper headlines. Don’t cancel your vacation because of terror alerts. Don’t hold back your plane because there are some Arabs on it. Don’t support hasty laws and careless political decisions, simple because we “have to do something”.
Accept that there is a threat, but don’t exaggerate it. Don’t trust your instinct to guide you, our instincts are notoriously bad at risk assessment, use reason and facts instead. When people are afraid of flying, they remind themselves that they’re much more likely to die in their car on the way to the airport than on the plane itself. Do the same with terrorism. Fight your fears with facts. I don’t believe in denial, and it is not denial to say that terrorism is one of the smallest threats that any of us face. It is simple irrational to fear terrorism more than traffic.
When you have reduced your fear to a rational level as much as you can, face what remains of it with open eyes. Don’t let the fear influence your behavior, except after careful thought. Life is full of risks, and terrorism is no different from all the others. So there’s a tiny risk you might die today. That’s no excuse to act like a fool or a coward. Death is a part of life.
Dishonor, stupidity, and cowardice are part of life, too. But who in his right mind wants to live that way? Perhaps that’s the key question: “who in their right mind?
Expect to hear this theme come up once more in the 2008 elections, especially if John Kerry jumps off the cliff again. Meanwhile, remember:
God grant us the courage to change the things we can…