In the aftermath of 9/11, much has changed in our world. I don't look at planes flying overhead with the same indifference as I once did. I recall the day when planes flew into buildings, and I also recall when planes didn't fly for days leaving the skies free for the birds. Ground Zero has been cleaned up and awaits the decision about what will fill the void of where the World Trade Center once was. While others debate the topic, we are left with anxiety. In addition to the terror of the past, we are warned nearly daily with some present danger. Unfortunately, these warnings of possible terrorist attacks will be with us for the foreseeable future.
How are we to cope? We are to be vigilant, but none of us really knows how to do it. Will another plane become a human-guided missile, will someone explode a dirty nuclear bomb, or will terrorists contaminate drinking water? We just don't know, and that is what is so frightening. Terror can strike at us any time or place and with any instrument of death. Many fear that the worst destruction of the terrorists won't be to buildings but to our minds by creating paranoia for millions and seizing them with a vice-like grip. The events from 9/11 to the present have a debilitating nature. Many wonder if they can face the future of uncertainty.
Ironically, that sense of sheer impotency has a redeeming aspect. What can we do to prevent our possible involvement in the next act of terror? The answer is very little. There is no fool-proof strategy to stay safe, and that reality is strangely freeing. The fact that we can't do very much to guarantee safety forces us to deal with reality. In processing our ultimate lack of control, we will find a wonderful sense of freedom. This reality reduces terrorism to the stature of other life-robbing events that we also face: cancer, stroke, car accidents, AIDS, and murder.
To a large degree, we have come to grips with these fatal realities. Since we can't protect ourselves for them absolutely, we acknowledge that one of them might do us in tomorrow, but then we go on living. Eureka! All these conventional threats and worries have strangely been managed by our minds. An act of terrorism might kill us just like those other killers, but the reality is that we can't protect ourselves from it. Therefore, fears of terrorism actually free us to go on and live our lives. Terrorism is regulated to the pantheon of problems faced by all human beings. Once we feared some prehistoric animal when our forebears sought shelter in caves. Then there was the capriciousness of kings and depots or plagues that concerned many. Many of us lived with fears of Hitler or polio. Today, the reality is terrorism.
We need to get a grip. Terrorism is terrible, but so are all the other life-threatening realities that can kill us-and one of the fears will in time. We can live free from the seizure of terrorism if we realize this. In addition, while we can't control what is ultimately going to do us in, we do have control over how we live life until that day does come. We can't allow random acts of terror to enslave us far beyond their real potential. We were as likely to die of suffocation in 2001 as we were dying on 9/11 due to the terrorist attack against America. In fact, we are more likely to die of home fire than we were of dying on the fateful day in September.
There isn't much positive that we can say about the terrorists, but they have over played there hand. They have inadvertently freed us to go back to living life without undo fear. We have the freedom to live and prosper in spite of all of their threats and even their acts.