Knipfing’s Notes: To Live in Fear or Just To Live

April 20th, 2013 at 9:00 am by under Latest Posts

How paranoid should we be? In light of Boston, a fair question.

The Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders describes paranoia as “a symptom in which an individual feels as if the world is ‘out to get’ him or her.”

As this is written a massive manhunt is going on for the younger of the two brothers now believed to have set off the bombs that killed three people and injured more than 150 at the Boston Marathon. At this point both brothers are believed to have been born in Chechnya, an area of Russia that’s a breeding ground for Islamic terrorists.

What’s been going on there is complicated and for outsiders difficult to fathom. There is a wealth of information about Chechnya, its issues, its terrorism.

Your search engine can turn you on to everything you want to know about Chechnya and neighboring areas of the Caucasus – where there’s so much trouble.

The salient point is that people and forces from the world far from the U.S. are, in fact, out to get us and have the capacity to do it. Feeling that “the world” is out to get us is not paranoia, it’s reality. We are targets of people who want to kill us, change the way we live, make us fearful, alter our lives.

The way to fight them is not to live in fear. But, and this is a BIG “but,” it is also crystal clear that we cannot live in a dream world and pretend that there is no threat.

So far terrorists have struck primarily major metropolitan areas. Places like New Mexico have not been hit, but there is a school of thought among anti-terrorism experts that bombers and killers will, at some point, turn their attention to parts of the U.S away from the big cities. Striking in “America’s Heartland”, even in small towns, would be especially chilling.

We’ve come to expect attacks in places like Boston and New York. Shifting the targets to areas Americans consider safe would have a huge psychological impact.

What do we do about that? After the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington, federal, state and local lawmen constantly told us to be on the lookout for “anything suspicious.” When we in the media pressed them to be more specific, their reply was always the same, “just anything suspicious.” Not very helpful.

In Israel where terrorist bomb attacks have been a fact of life for years, citizens have become very alert to one specific threat, unattended packages, backpacks and luggage. The Boston bombers left their explosives in two ordinary looking backpacks in the midst of crowds. No one apparently gave them a second thought.

If you’re looking for something, anything specific you can do to protect against terrorism, that’s a place to start. In Israel if someone spots a suspicious package or backpack he, or she, shouts out “unattended package,” and people quickly clear the area.

That’s a hard thing to do. In America it’s a sin to be uncool. It would definitely be uncool to shout a warning, then discover the package or backpack was empty or had books or clothing. Everybody would think you were a dumb doofus.

The question is, “How close has Boston brought us to the point where we are willing to risk being dumb doofuses?” When will the risk of being dead outweigh the risk of looking dumb?

One Response to “Knipfing’s Notes: To Live in Fear or Just To Live”

  1. jean_e_lane says:

    I don’t think those last 2 questions are really the appropriate questions. The issue is that attacks are so few and far between, its more like the boy who cried, “Wolf!” Going to the airport, there is the never-ending drill about unattended packages. That has been going on for years and years. The ears get dulled when nothing happens when warnings are constantly given. We have been at terror level Orange for over 11 years. Umm yeah. Makes me think the government wants us to be complacent. That way we are more malleable. And I think its working.

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