As we were watching coverage of the Boston bombings this morning, my 13-year-old daughter said that the nonstop coverage should stop. She felt that it was playing right into the hands of the terrorists who perpetrated the attack. “Don’t the news people know that this is what the bad guys want?” I think she made a great point. Of course, we want to know more about the attacks, but watching the explosions and the aftermath over and over again won’t make things any clearer.
It is important for us to honor and pray for the victims, but we must not become victims ourselves. After 9/11, we willingly surrendered our privacy and many of our civil rights to be “protected.” In my opinion, the Patriot Act was not a patriotic act. We became less free, in order to feel safer. I shucked my shoes and allowed my body to be scanned and patted down at the airport. My son’s hands were swabbed for explosives residue. I didn’t feel any safer. We have come to expect that our privacy will be violated, and that we shouldn’t care, since we are not terrorists. What books we check out at the library, our banking transactions, our internet browsing history, our email and cell phone calls are all fair game.
There is nothing that we can do to be 100 percent SAFE. Risk is involved in every undertaking, no matter how mundane. No amount of vigilance or training could have prepared the marathoners for this senseless act of violence. But amid the chaos there were everyday heroes who rushed into the fray to help the injured. In moments of crisis, it is not fear that rules, but the very human desire to help our fellow man. Here is where we find hope. Although criminals perpetrated a horrific act on innocents, we have already triumphed over fear. We should not change ourselves to adapt to terror, but refuse to be terrorized.
This editorial from The Atlantic echoes my thoughts, and those of my daughter:
How well this attack succeeds depends much less on what happened in Boston than by our reactions in the coming weeks and months. Terrorism isn’t primarily a crime against people or property. It’s a crime against our minds, using the deaths of innocents and destruction of property as accomplices. When we react from fear, when we change our laws and policies to make our country less open, the terrorists succeed, even if their attacks fail. But when we refuse to be terrorized, when we’re indomitable in the face of terror, the terrorists fail, even if their attacks succeed. Don’t glorify the terrorists and their actions by calling this part of a “war on terror.” Wars involve two legitimate sides. There’s only one legitimate side here; those on the other are criminals. They should be found, arrested, and punished. But we need to be vigilant not to weaken the very freedoms and liberties that make this country great, meanwhile, just because we’re scared. Empathize, but refuse to be terrorized. Instead, be indomitable — and support leaders who are as well. That’s how to defeat terrorists.