Terrorism Begins At Home (or “Kill or Be Killed!”)

February 15, 2008 | By | 4 Replies More

Is anyone else struck by the irony that Homeland Security so often erodes First Amendment rights? Homeland Security has become obsessed about listening to personal phone calls and seizing people’s cell phones and laptops when they travel.  Ironically, there is no security for the victims of gunmen who shoot up college campuses and city council meetings.

At 48 years old, I can remember attending high school and college without any fear that someone would walk in and begin blasting away. The recent stories on the news, starting with last year’s Virginia Tech shooting, followed by a local killing rampage at a Kirkwood City Council meeting (5 dead, 2 critically injured, one of whom was the city’s mayor), and yesterday’s deaths on the DeKalb campus of Northern Illinois University, has me wondering what has changed? Is it my level of awareness or is it a change in the basic behavior and beliefs of Americans?

Initially outraged by the extremely cavalier treatment of US citizens with Muslim backgrounds who attempt to travel out of the United States, I now find myself feeling deeply saddened and frustrated that innocent folks are uselessly harassed while others, intent on venting their rage, are so easily able to take many lives in a few short minutes. Is there a connection here? I think there is.
For eight years now we’ve lived in an atmosphere of fear, created by and fed by an embedded media that supports a President and a government that speaks of terrorism and “The Enemy” as something out there, waiting to get us all.

Whatever we might think about the media’s ability to affect how we think and behave, I personally believe it is impossible to escape its effect altogether. Even if we refuse to turn on the TV or the radio, there is the Internet.  And even if we do not indulge in surfing the Internet, our neighbors, friends and family members are certainly not on a low- or no-media diet. The atmosphere of fear pervades the very air we breathe.
Unfortunately, there is no respite and there are no sure-fire solutions offered by the government or the media. Homeland Security?  It’s not effective.  It’s a “war” we cannot win. Just as computer viruses and system break-ins continue to be engineered by those with the fever to destroy, terrorists bent on passing through security lines will think of new and creative ways to detonate their bombs and kill people.

The result is that we feel completely out of control. Guess what? It’s true. We are. Despite increased security (That woman’s a Muslim! Take her cell phone!), shooting rampages continue, children continue to be raped and kidnapped, and the fear builds.

We can run but we can’t hide from fear. We can keep our children indoors and we can give them cell phones with instructions to call us from wherever they go, but we still can’t quell the fear. Fear has the capacity to build on itself and, without a means to face it, we become driven by it.  The Fearful people themselves become dangerous. People who are basically motivated by fear can become so angry and frustrated that they act out. They sometimes kill.

Underneath the religious fervor that drives zealots to kill themselves and others, and under the rage and desire for revenge that drives young men to kill classmates and fellow students, what ultimately makes some folks “go postal” is fear itself.  Fear that we don’t have control. Fear that we won’t get what we want. Fear that we’ll die without receiving the love, power, and recognition that are basic human needs. And fear that if we don’t take action first, someone or something will do us in.

Children know this urge well. The video games to which children are so addicted always involve someone or something being killed, violently. The point of these games is to kill “The Enemy” before he, she or It, kills you. Eat or be eaten. Kill or be killed. Sound familiar? It’s our good ol’ survival instinct, that deeply rooted chakra-driven urge to survive in spite of all those forces of evil that are out to get us. Children are more immediately driven by this survival instinct because they are young and vulnerable. What should make adults truly adult is a deeper and more mature quality: Acceptance.  I’m referring to an Acceptance of what cannot be changed (that includes everything outside of us) and an Acceptance of our basic humanity, our fears, our needs, our desires and our aversions.

What could truly serve us in this environment of ubiquitous fear-mongering is to grow up.  We need to learn to face Fear. We need to look at it head-on, study it and know it for what it is. 
What we can actually change is ourselves.  To always fear the Enemy, the Evildoer who is outside, is to refuse to accept an intrinsic fact of humanity: we all have the capacity for violence. We can all become resentful, envious, angry or enraged.  We must learn to accept these inconvenient facts and learn appropriate responses to these feelings.  After all, thoughts and feelings are impermanent.

The human survival instinct is not a good or a bad thing. It serves a purpose. If your car goes into a skid, the quickened pulse and the speedy turn of the wheel, keeps us alive. If we are to truly live, however, we must find ways to live fully, without being driven primarily by fear. We must change what we can.  We must change ourselves.


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Category: Good and Evil, law and order, Politics

About the Author ()

Artemis likes wilderness, wild animals and whooping it up with the boyz. She also thinks writing and yoga are pretty cool. And watch out for the full moon.

Comments (4)

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  1. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    The whole point of terrorism is to leverage the media so a relatively small group of people can make their political plea to the masses. By providing this coverage, the media is being completely and willingly complicit in aiding and abetting the terrorists.

    The real question is:

    Who are the real terrorists?

    Who benefits from all this? Not the average Iraqi citizen who considers it a good day if they don't get wounded or killed. Not the average American who is going to bear part of the cost of the billions spent on fighting shadows. Not the average soldier, who risks life and limb so they can be sent back into harms way again and agian, or unitl they are "all used up" at which time they find the VA too underfunded to take care of them.

    The ones that benefit the most from all of this are people that have wormed their way into lucrative contracts with the government, and have found that they can syphon trainloads of money form those contracts as long as the war continues.

    These people never go near a combat zone, never take any risk, but reap great rewards for making others take the risks.

    America, land of the free, where everything is for sale, including the government.

    Kinda sucks, Don't it.

  2. grumpypilgrim says:

    My question is why so many Americans are so frightened about terrorist attacks when the odds of them ever encountering such an attack is vanishingly small. If we look at, say, the fifty most likely causes of death in America, "terrorism" wouldn't even be on the list. Yet, according to an apparently large percentage of the population, it should be the nation's top priority, and we should spend "whatever it takes" (whatever that means) to prevent it. Meanwhile, Americans are dying left and right from all sorts of preventable causes, not one of which receives even a tiny fraction of the money Bush spends in Iraq. Likewise, I seem to hear every day about all sorts of other problems…mortgage foreclosures, global warming, inflation, identity theft, gun slaughters on college campuses…yet where is the national priority to address these problems?

  3. dzho says:

    I disagree. Most Americans, regardless of what George II tries to sell us, don’t seem to be afraid. Rather than ‘fear’ I would look at ‘hope’. Back in the 60s, the basic assumption was that with hard work we could make a better life for ourselves, and the government supported us in this. In the 90s I had many arguments with younger people who were sure this was no longer possible, but after the past 8 years I’ve had to shut up. Not only is there little or no hope of things getting better, but unless we are billionaires the government has become our enemy. It’s easy to understand bitterness, and a desire for revenge, even if it is misplaced. Suicide takes courage, and these people are not driven by fear, but by rage and hopelessness.

  4. Artemis says:

    Rage and hopelessness, as far as I understand from the psychological view, are caused by underlying fear. A friend who worked on the police force informed me that it was hatred driven by fear that caused violent behavior.

    Fear of not getting what we want leads to rage, etc.

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