In the wake of the terrorist attack at London yesterday, I got to thinking. It’s horrible of course. And my prayers for those who didn’t know it was their last day on earth. Also prayers for their loved ones and those who are left behind.
But here’s something else that hit me. Listening to Theresa May respond, I thought about our whole ‘you don’t scare me, I’m going shopping’ approach to Islamic terrorism. In fact, many people interviewed yesterday by different outlets said variations of the same thing. We’re not afraid. We’re going on with business. We’re not going to let it stop us.
Perhaps we should let it change us. They say the purpose of terrorism is to get us to fall apart. Disrupt our lives. Cause divisions. But is it possible that our whole ‘keep calm and carry on’ approach isn’t helping?
I know. People will immediately slam our disastrous responses to 9/11. But just because I say we need to find a different approach doesn’t mean the only alternative is invade Iraq. And I”m not really talking about our official response. I’m talking about how we, as the people, as citizens of our nation and, more broadly, the world, respond.
Ever since GW Bush said ‘our very civilization was under attack – quick, so shopping!’, there has been something wrong. Something that didn’t feel right. Even now, as we go on about our business while US troops are still in war zones and are still dying, something doesn’t seem right. We could certainly pull all of our troops home, but that doesn’t change things. Terrorism is the new normal they say.
And again, I’m not really talking about our national, government, military or legal responses. I’m talking us schmucks who are every day Joes and Janes or any combination thereof. Is telling us to just move on doing us good? Doing the fight any good? Sometimes I think of us like those antelopes on the Serengeti. A lion rushes out and all of the antelope run for their lives. As soon as one is brought down, the rest of the herd slows down and goes on about their business while the fallen antelope is devoured.
Is that a great model for us? Because that’s how I feel we’re behaving when this happens. It seems like there’s a disconnect; something isn’t right. It does seem to play into this whole ‘as long as terrorists kill others, it’s the sacrifice I’m willing to make’ attitude. I realize that nobody articulates it that way. But how else can you interpret the comforting statement that terrorism, while inevitable, is statistically insignificant? So was getting attacked by Japanese planes at a Hawaiian military base. Compared to auto fatalities in 1941, it didn’t even make 10%. But we got that there was something else; it meant something more than just number crunching to find out if anyone else should be worried.
I’m not proclaiming from on high the ultimate answer. I don’t know. Should we be called upon to sacrifice more? Give of ourselves? Tin and rubber drives? Probably mean something else today anyway. But I do know that there is something increasingly disconcerting about the whole ‘we’ll show them, we won’t let them change us.’ Maybe we should. Perhaps the problem is we’ve needed changing for some time. Just thinking out loud as I mourn along with everyone else the lives so tragically taken yesterday.