“Don’t let the terrorists win.”
How often have we heard that in the past 15 years? A lot.
We’re told not to succumb to fear because if we do, “the terrorists will win.”
And yet, here’s what’s also true:
How can we not?
Grim, gruesome, ghastly things are happening all over the world. We can’t avoid them, because they’re random. One aid worker is captured while others continue their work. One magazine is targeted, others are not. Someone is shopping for Shabbat in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Without a pattern we can avoid to stay safe, we can’t help but live against a backdrop of worry. It may not be conscious, but it’s there.
So, the admonition don’t let the terrorists win is a little late for most of us. They’ve already won because they understand that fear is a mighty weapon and they’re diabolically skilled in its use. And they’re escalating it.
“Be vigilant!” we’re told. Seriously? How exactly does that work? Do we look over our shoulders every five minutes? Call the police if we see a swarthy figure in a crowd? What does that mean, exactly?
It means nothing. Not in a practical way. It’s useless advice.
The events in France were meant to be fear-generating, and they were successful. We can’t help but be afraid. Afraid to speak out, afraid to speak up, afraid to be at big public places and in the worst cases, afraid to leave home.
So don’t tell me not to let terrorists win, because they’ve already won. We’re just trying to defend ourselves. And we’re not prepared to because they’ve outsmarted us.
And while we all understand–theoretically–that murders by religious zealots pervert their faith–that no one’s God supports killing in its name–it’s only natural to view the entire faith as evil and to want to do something to keep its members from harming us.
Russell’s observation about herd instinct is right on the money. It seems obvious we’ll see some fear-based political and organizational responses to these terrible events. I can’t fault that, not really.
But one thing is crystal-clear. When fear is both a tool and a response, nothing good can result.
So light the candles and start the prayers. A mighty battle has begun– and there’s not a thing we can do about it but walk it out.