Musings

You’re Never Safe

April 20, 2013

It’s been a pretty eventful week for the people of Boston. The pair of bombs detonated by the two suspects…let’s call them what they are, terrorists…killed three and wounded a hundred and seventy some others. Many lost limbs. Many others lost something else…their sense of innocence. They learned instead that something as seemingly innocuous as a marathon could turn into a target for fanatics. The city went into lock down, and as of this writing, one suspect was dead, and the younger of the two, his brother, had been captured and was hospitalized, in serious condition from blood loss. They wanted to take this guy alive, because they wanted answers. They wanted to know if and how he had been radicalized, and they wanted to know, very simply, what his rationale for doing something like this was. You know what I say? Who cares what his reasons were. Does that really matter? The people these two killed aren’t coming back, and there’s nothing this guy can say as far as his reasoning that is adequately going to explain why he did what he did. It’s probably going to come back to religion (early reports are that these two were Muslims, and I wish I could say that I’m surprised by that, but I’m not), and it’s probably going to be something about America being the Great Satan, and spreading our imperialist tentacles across the globe. You know, the usual claptrap. Hey, I’ve said on the site before, America has it’s faults, but we’re doing way better than almost everybody else.

But to get back to my point, the loss of innocence. This has been the biggest terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11. There have been several more terrorist attacks foiled in New York since then, because New York is always going to be the biggest target. You want to make a a statement, you do it here. But Boston is a major U.S. city too, and this act has drawn plenty of attention, and rightfully so. People are going to ask, what more could have been done to prevent this. They’re going to say, what can be done to prevent it happening in the future. The unfortunate answer? There’s not a whole lot that could have been done to stop this from happening, and there’s not a whole lot to stop it from recurring. Sure, you can beef up security at marathons from now on, but future terrorists and extremists are simply going to target something else, if they’re smart. You can always have plenty of security around obvious targets, like the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building, but someone who wants to make a statement can just put a bomb in a public park, or a library, or a museum. Being in the security industry myself, in addition to being a writer, I know this to be true. If someone is dead set on spreading terror, if they’re dead set on setting off bombs, and they have the technical expertise to make them and the slyness to plant them somewhere that they won’t be immediately noticed, they’re going to accomplish their goal, which is wholesale slaughter. I’m not going to speak the rhetoric that Obama and those in power are so fond of repeating, that our American values are not going to be corrupted by this attack. That’s pretty much self evident. We’re not going to make any major changes to our way of life because of what happened. Once this is all said and done, regardless of what stupid reason this nineteen year old kid gives for how and why he became radicalized, we’re going to bury our dead, and things are going to go back to how they were. We could hire millions more security guards and police, and it wouldn’t be able to stop these things from happening, just like no matter how many times these attacks are perpetrated successfully, it’s not going to change any of our foreign or domestic policies. We’re kind of at a stalemate with the people who commit these sorts of attacks.

Now, as far as whether our behavior as ordinary citizens is going to change, that’s kind of a matter of personal preference, isn’t it? If you live in Boston, or New York, or any other major U.S. city in the 21st century, you can see something like this and say to yourself “this is the last straw. I’m going to move to a tiny town in the middle of Utah, or Montana, where something like this is incredibly unlikely to happen.” And that’s your right. You’re correct in thinking that a tiny town in the middle of nowhere probably isn’t going to be a terrorist target. But its entirely possible that some nutcase militant with a stockpile of weapons living next door to you is going to snap, and is going to spray you with an automatic weapon that Congress was too chickenshit to ban. Or a schizophrenic might decide to slice you up with a carving knife…or you might be wiped out on a street corner by a drunk driver. My point is that it’s all random. What happened in Boston is a tragic event, yes. Perhaps some relatives and friends of those slain will take solace in learning why those responsible acted as they did. But probably not, because when things like this happen, the reality is, they’re pretty much random. It’s just like getting hit with a meteor, or being struck by lightning. Because these terrorists didn’t target anyone specifically, it was all luck of the draw. And when your time is up, it’s up. It doesn’t matter if you were at the World Trade Center, or at the Boston Marathon, or lying peacefully in your bed at home, giving up the ghost for no other reason than extreme old age. So I, for one, won’t change my behavior any because of what happened. It doesn’t matter if Boston is attacked again, or New York. It doesn’t matter how often catastrophes happen, either man-made or natural. I fear death, but when my time is up, it’s up. I realize that it’s nondiscriminatory. I would advise the survivors of the Marathon bombings to remember that. It’s awful what happened, but there isn’t anything they could have done to change it. It’s not their fault, and they shouldn’t second guess themselves for bringing a child or other family member to watch the race, and they shouldn’t have survivors guilt, either. It’s all random. It might sound a bit harsh. But that’s just life…and death too, sometimes.

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