Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself …

Today’s news is that everybody is in fear of a terrorist organization called ISIS, ISIL or daesh.  Well fear not, my friends, because I am here to relieve your fears!  In the words of the late, great President Franklin D. Roosevelt, “ … the only thing we have to fear is … fear itself … “

For starters, let us look at the top 10 causes of death in the U.S. according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Heart disease: 611,105
  • Cancer: 584,881
  • Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 149,205
  • Accidents (unintentional injuries): 130,557
  • Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 128,978
  • Alzheimer’s disease: 84,767
  • Diabetes: 75,578
  • Influenza and Pneumonia: 56,979
  • Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 47,112
  • Intentional self-harm (suicide): 41,149

Now look closely … do you see terrorist attacks or terrorism anywhere on that list?  No, you do not.  In fact, the odds of a U.S. citizen dying in a terrorist attack are approximately 1 in 20 million, and that includes citizens travelling abroad, where terrorist attacks are more likely than on U.S. soil. A minimum of three items on this list, however, can be caused by lying awake worrying at night, thus fear itself can cause death.  Even obesity is 23,528 times more likely to kill you than terrorism.  And I am not even going into my usual spiel about gun-related deaths due to “good citizens” carrying guns around everywhere they go.  Okay, now that we’ve put that to rest, you can stop buying into the rhetoric of the media, politicians and presidential wanna-be’s who would like you to believe that terrorism by radical Islamists tops the list of things that should keep you awake at night.

As I grow older I find that I am less fearful of anything.  It’s interesting to note, though I am not a psychologist and am stating opinion based solely on my own experience, but I think that we are at our most fearful when we are raising our children, and we see potential danger lurking around every corner.  Then, as we start to age, to move toward the inevitable end of our lives, we become less fearful of death itself, and more fearful of living our last years dependent on others or in some vegetative state.  As I said, I fear very little these days, and dying in a terrorist attack isn’t even on the list.  I made two Christmas shopping trips to local malls last week with my family and I can tell you that my biggest fear today is driving to the mall!  I remember now why I do 95% of my Christmas shopping on Amazon!  On the first excursion, I was nearly smashed into by a driver whose mind was apparently on her ongoing cell phone conversation and another who thought he/she was the only driver on the highway and that all 5 lanes were his/hers to meander in and out of as the urge hit. On the second trip we passed two major accidents in the 15 miles or so between home and mall!  And don’t even ask me about mall parking lots during the Christmas season!  I will take my chances with ISIS over a crowded mall parking lot any day!

Fear is a money-making commodity for the media and politicians.  When something like the recent terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, California, or Paris, France happens, the media jump on it, because it is stories like those that are the bread and butter of their existence.  Politicians jump on it because it legitimizes all the taxpayer dollars they spend annually on counter-terrorism measures and the infringements on personal freedoms that we have seen in the years since 9/11.  The wanna-be’s, jump on it because they can talk tough and sound as if they and they alone would provide the solution to the problem, and that if you don’t vote for them, your odds of surviving ISIS are slim-to-none.  Arm yourself with facts rather than believing the rhetoric.  I have taken, as a part of my post-grad studies, three courses on terrorism and counter-terrorism.  Each presented a slightly different perspective, but for the most part, all three supported the same ideology that terrorism in the west is a very small threat.  If you are interested in checking facts and figures, here is a link to the searchable Global Terrorism Database published by START (National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism).  It is very user-friendly, informative, and as you will see, provides factual support that terrorism is primarily NOT a large threat to the U.S.

Now that you know you are not going to die from a terrorist attack tomorrow, you can sleep peacefully tonight, dream of sugar plums (whatever the heck those are) and wake up perky tomorrow!  Just stay away from the mall!!!