Sunday, November 22, 2015

Terrorism & You: Go Ahead And Be Afraid

The last few weeks, and if I'd been paying closer attention the last few months, have perhaps been the most shockingly violent that I've seen when turning on The National or listening to CBC Radio 1 in the morning. Like many, I largely ignored terrorist attacks by ISIS, al-Qaeda, or other extremist groups, because the attacks were in the Middle East or Africa, and frankly, that kind of stuff just happens over there.

However, when it happens in the West, whether it be in Manhattan, Ottawa, or Paris, I stand up and take notice. But my thoughts tonight are not about the hypocrisy of caring about terror closer to home or where the majority of victims are white (and it's a huge hypocrisy, even with racial undertones); my thoughts are about the reaction that our leaders suggest we have in response to terror.

After the attacks of 9/11 as well as those in my capital city and then in Paris, one by one Prime Ministers and Presidents from affected countries as well as those in solidarity with them, well, they seem to have a common theme in their messages:

"ISIS (or insert other terrorist organization here) wants to make us afraid. But they have failed. We are not afraid. Instead these acts have brought us together and we are stronger than we have ever been in our resolve."

Friends, have you seen any interviews from the streets of Brussels this weekend, where Belgian leaders have declared a state of emergency and banned public gatherings while deploying major security throughout the capital? Have you seen the look of worry on the faces of Parisians as they're still shell-shocked by the acts in the Bataclan club and the restaurants?

This is my thought tonight. Don't be afraid to be afraid! Fear is an emotion, and I've too often found in my life that when I try to bury my emotions, whatever they may be, the consequence is often ugly, from further anxiety to physical, mental, or emotional illness.

Like hell there's nothing to be afraid of rather than fear itself - sorry FDR! If it isn't scary to think of the possibility of walking down a city street and being beheaded, or attending a concert and having terrorists walk in and use the crowd as target practice, or having a Molotov cocktail thrown into your place of worship, then I don't know what is.

The question then is, what do we do with our fear once we stop playing pretend and admitting that it is present? I don't have all those answers tonight as my sleeping pills kick in, but I think it can mean many things, including being mindful during our day, breathing deeply, and reducing the amount of time we spend in front of the gory images coming out of Paris or wherever it may be.

But for god's sakes, feel free to feel afraid. It's not going to kill you, and you're not handing a win to any terrorist.

Mark Andrew Nouwen

1 comment:

barefootbellringer said...

Wise words. Thank you for this my friend.