Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché;
The recent bombing and sensational manhunt in Boston and Watertown has unsettled everyone I know. What I found most disturbing was the fact that one of the suspects in the case was a student- and his fellow students perceived him as being pleasant, receptive, and friendly. No one suspected a thing.
Since 9/11, we’ve become suspicious of anyone who looks as if they are of mideastern origin…now who are we supposed to be suspicious of? The friends our brother brings home? The paper boy? Everyone?
I’m glad the event is over. I wish I could believe it was over. But I think that every time something like this happens, it affects us in an indelible way. People in Boston and Watertown are celebrating as if this is a great triumph for America. What is there to celebrate? Two American citizens went nuts and we hunted them down after they managed to kill and maim people.
What the hell?
People are celebrating because at least for now it is over. They were in “lock down” (the new euphemism for military state) while shootouts and bombs were going off in suburban streets. I have heard people going on about civil right violations and such from being forced to stay inside but that is just silly.
Despite current atrocities I remember seeing statistics that show it is actually safer in American cities today than twenty years ago. Overall, that might be true- but from the mass media reports it certainly doesn’t seem that way.
As far as the trust issue goes, in reality you can’t trust anyone. But then, you never could. Humans are territorial animals and as such will always have territorial behaviors. That’s why 30% of your computers resources are on antivirus programs, why you need to remember multiple passwords, have deadbolts on your doors and heavy paper envelopes for mail.
But despite all of this, what it really boils down to is how you want to live your life. A balance of healthy denial mixed with common sense and awareness probably works best. If you see an unattended back pack at an event, move away and alert authorities. And don’t let strangers pack your luggage for a trip!
A marathon observer saw the bomber drop the back pack, and looked him right in the eye, but he didn’t think anything of it. That will probably not happen again. A plane being hijacked by a group carrying box cutters would never happen again either. People will and should not expect that everything will just work out okay. When in doubt act.
Even the rules of basic self-defense have changed. Twenty years ago they taught a woman not to resist a rapist now they say fight back and assume they are going to kill you. For now, modern life seems to hover on permanent yellow alert.
Dr. Brilliant Cliché
America was a complacent country before 9/11. Now we are waking up. As with all people who have slept for too long, we are cranky at being nudged from our dreams and we cling to the hope that we can hit the snooze alarm and drop off again. But I think that the recent bombing in Boston has made many of us realize the danger of snoozing.
As always, when it comes to personal safety- be aware and be prepared. Can we trust each other? If we are blind and complacent, we most certainly cannot. If we are awake and really look at what is in front of us, we can at least trust that we are making an effort to see the truth. If a bomb comes out of nowhere, there’s not much we can do. But if everyone had been watching on the day of the Marathon, we may have seen those bombs coming.
Nothing will keep us safe from everything. But then, the guys who are out to get us have the same odds, don’t they?