Never Fear II


Vivian and her grandmother eat some award-winning barbecue ribs at Kitchener-Waterloo’s Blues Brews Barbecue Festival, running today and tomorrow in downtown Kitchener. Some of the best barbecue outside of Kansas City can be found here this weekend.

If Vivian becomes a vegetarian and catches sight of this photograph, she’s going to kill me!

(More photographs of Vivian enjoying meat)

It looks like the British secret services did a bang-up job in arresting a major terrorist attack before it happened. Just like the RCMP earlier this year, my hat goes off to them. These people give a lot to make sure that we lie safe in our beds, and I’m grateful.

However, the Canadian Cynic has an interesting observation on the reaction of some to this latest success in the War on Terror:

Predictably, (some right wing bloggers) are all over the latest Islamojihadifarian terror scare, and wondering just what the hell is wrong with those of us who are not getting terrified so much as just getting old and jaded by all of this.

I didn’t follow his link. I tend to avoid the site in question in order to keep my blood pressure down. But let’s assume for a moment that the question is genuine. Even after the revelation of a plot to blow up Canadian sites, I remain reasonably content in my life, and optimistic about my future. And I see no pressing need to take measures beyond what’s allowed under our Charter of Rights and Freedoms and under International Law, to combat the real and serious problem of radical Islamic fundamentalism. Why?

Well, let’s put a few things in perspective. Are there groups out there wishing to rain death on North America? Yes. And it’s almost certain that they will succeed in killing innocent people. That’s tragic, and worth our attention. The reason why it’s not worth our fear is because it’s unlikely they will succeed in their ambitions.

It may interest you to know that, even with the September 11 terrorist attacks, and even with the mayhem in Iraq, more people have died in the United States each year due to traffic accidents. Where’s our War on Bad Drivers? Indeed, outside of Iraq, the likelihood that I am going to die of a terrorist attack is comparable to the likelihood that I’ll be struck by lightning or swept away by a tornado. Where’s our War on Nature?

And I don’t mean to downplay traffic accidents or severe weather phenomenon. You will notice that there is information out there on the threat posed by lightning strikes. This advice, courtesy Fox News, is prudent and wise and doesn’t ask us to act paranoid, or engage in self destructive behaviour. For instance, it doesn’t recommend chopping down every single tree in a forest to eliminate the threat of people being struck while standing beneath them (a policy which, just like Iraq, can make the problem worse, not better).

There is a difference between prudence and paranoia. Far more houses are never robbed than robbed, but that doesn’t stop me from locking my doors at night. On the other hand, the likelihood that Toronto will suffer a terrorist attack in my lifetime isn’t enough to keep me from walking its streets, taking its transit, and enjoying its sights.

And then there is the issue of what can I do to bring a successful resolution to the War on Terror? Other than support my democracy by voting, campaigning to keep our freedoms, and giving our RCMP and our armed forces the budget they need to keep vigilent, that is? The War on Terror is not like the weather, but my personal capability of doing anything about it is.

In this respect, what good does it do me to fear? And indeed, isn’t that what the terrorists want? By not being afraid, by continuing to live my life without paranoia, I’m doing what I can to combat the terrorists. And more importantly, my life is happier as a result.

There is every possibility that I may find myself in, say, Bloor-Yonge station when a bomb goes off. And while that would be tragic, it would still be true that up to that point I’d have led a happy life, with no regrets, unmarred by paranoia. A life led in fear and hatred is not a life at all.

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