—-Harry S. Truman
I was a bit shaken up this week, and I am not sure why. I think it began with the book that I read/reviewed, Elevator Pitch by one of my very favorite authors, Linwood Barclay. Barclay’s books are so captivating that sometimes it is difficult to separate fact from fiction, and this one definitely had me checking my surroundings. The basic premise, elevators dropping to the ground with no warning in New York City, highlights the possibility of terrorism at its worst, and just mirrored the fear that seems to run through us every day.
Be they domestic or foreign, articles about terrorism cover the pages of our newspapers every day. Last week eleven year old Olivia called her mom, Beth, into her “fort” and began a lesson on how to handle a “hostile intruder.” Apparently, should there be a hostile intruder to the room in which the fort is located, Beth is to move so that she is fully blocked by the fort wall and Olivia will then pull on a mask and hit them with the nerf gun. Quite an imaginary plan for an eleven year old. What has our world become?
Thinking it through I realized that our world hasn’t changed much at all. Since civilized times began, man seems to find more and more ways to torture his fellow man. As sad as it is that young children need to come up with ways to protect themselves now, is it really any different than children hiding under their desks to protect themselves from a nuclear attack (really?...under a desk?) during the Cold War days?
How about the fear of a military draft being reinstated during Gulf War times and young men being forced to leave the security of their homes for a battlefield far away. That fear sat heavy on many family’s shoulders in the nineties, but it was a reality in the sixties. In those days, as in these days, the world was a very scary place. People talk about before and after 9/11 like it was a mark in the sand that took away our innocence. Nope...innocence was/is an illusion that people hang on to when they see the proverbial boogie man knocking on their door.
The best thing we can do right now is stop living in fear of things that might never occur and people whose cultures are a bit different than our own. We can most certainly teach our children to be prepared, but then we must also teach them to face life with opened arms and embrace people with an open heart. We should show them that while it might be useful to find ways to overtake a school shooter, it is much more prudent to find a way to change the hearts of the school bullies.
We must teach them (and learn ourselves) that while there will always be people and things to fear, our world is a wonderful place filled with remarkable people and glorious places just waiting to be discovered. That, my friends, is the only way that we will truly beat the terrorists whom we fear the most.
As always a complete review of this week’s book will follow my blog.