Three months ago. I went to my kids’ school to have lunch with them and sat at a “peanut-free” table. I had seen the signs around school outside various classrooms. I had been made aware of kids’ peanut allergies in school fliers and letters and e-mails when someone in one of the kids’ classes had an allergy. Each class member has a day to bring treats and it is most important to not harm others. We all were made aware and we took daily precautions to protect the kids.
Three weeks ago. My wife was traveling eastbound on Manchester in Des Peres towards work, and out of the blue a white-tailed doe leaped over the road divider and fell upon the car next to hers, crushing the front of vehicle. The car’s driver was unhurt. The deer stumbled off the front of the car and disappeared, apparently also unhurt. Later, a sign went up to alert the daily commuters to the “deer crossing” which occurs more and more frequently in my West St. Louis County neighborhood.
Last week. As we were flying southeastward, lightning hit the plane. No biggie, it happens all the time, my frequent-flying executive wife says to the kids, the planes are designed to take it.
These occurrences and incidents in my family’s life were all taken in stride by all of us. We didn’t know of the frequency of such occurrences nationally because we didn’t have any Homeland Security alerts in advance. Neither President Bush nor the plethora of candidates frowned and gesticulate at the threat of peanut allergies, deer hits on vehicles and lightning strikes. There have been no clarion calls for wiretaps or imprisonments of peanut farmers without trials, no wars or bombs or rewards for the capture of perpetrator deer. We haven’t had any new federal departments (that prohibit unions) created to hand out lightning rods or arrestors and to fight the threats of potential deaths from peanut allergies, strikes by errant deer, or strikes by lightning.
But, according to the Cato Institute, since the 1960’s when we first started keeping track of the numbers of US citizens deaths from terrorism, more US citizens die each year from peanut allergies than have died from terrorist attacks (and see here). More US citizens die each year from hits by deer than have died from terrorist attacks. More US citizens die each year from lightning strikes than die from terrorist attacks. The statistics include domestic sponsored terrorism (e.g., McVeigh) as well as apparent foreign sponsored terrorism (9/11).
Thus, as US citizens wander through life, they don’t know that they stand a statistically larger chance of death from peanut allergies, leaping deer and lightning strikes than from foreign or domestic terrorist attacks.