Terrorism – From the August Issue of “O” Magazine

I’m so afraid of terrorism, I can’t sleep. How unsafe are we?

Terrorism is violence calculated to create an atmosphere of fear and alarm. It often works.

Terrorist attacks are deadly, dramatic, and visual; how many times have we watched the World Trade Center’s towers fall? And the terror is reinforced by a relentless message of fear in the form of Washington’s color-coded alerts and announcements of imminent attack.

The terrorist threat is real, but we must distinguish between threats to our national security and danger to individual citizens—us. The threat we face as individuals is minuscule compared with the everyday risks we accept. Each year the average American has about a one in 7,000 chance of dying in a motor vehicle accident, and a one in 18,000 chance of being murdered, most likely by a relative or friend. Compare that to about a one in 600,000 chance of dying at the hands of terrorists. Yet, are we ready to toss the keys to the car? Avoid the family picnic? No.

As a nation, we will combat terrorism. As individuals, it is up to us to combat terror—our own—by putting terrorist fears in perspective.

— Brian Michael Jenkins, senior advisor on terror and homeland security for the RAND Corporation

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