This is a special week–we are remembering the panic and fear that hit us so suddenly 5 years ago. “How could they do this?” “What was next?” “Could as many as 50,000 people be in the Towers?” “Was this the beginning of an all-out assault?” “Will they strike in our hometown next?”
These questions ran through everyone’s minds. How quickly we forget. For many of us, it has become business as usual.
A common thought today is that terrorism is something that affects other people, not us. Even Hurricane Katrina was something that happened to “those people.” I would think that every American with any compassion or concern for their loved ones would stop and think about the horrors our fellow citizens have suffered in the recent past, both natural and man-made. Many thousands still feel the pain every day for their losses. And yet we do nothing.
Is it a normal human response to avoid the painful thoughts and feelings that could move us to action? Is it normal to ignore this fear and, in so doing, to risk the our lives of ourselves and those of loved ones? Could this explain why so many people living in disaster-prone areas seem surprised when a catastrophe hits?
I know of many who live in Los Angeles or San Francisco who are almost proud of the fact that the only preparedness supplies they have in case of a big earthquake are an extra package of toilet paper and a 6-pack of Diet Coke. If you live in an area that is threatened by hurricanes yearly, how hard is it to keep extra food and water and gas in the tank? We hear from experts “in the know” that it is not IF the terrorists hit us again but WHEN and WHERE.
To its credit, our government keeps trying to remind us to be prepared. I often hear radio messages and read billboards, all calling us to action. The news media really tries to keep the threat at the forefront of our attention. And yet, most of us seem to have this instinctive need to believe it will never happen to us.
What will it take to stir us to action? How many times do we need to see and experience the devastating loss of others before we are compelled to prepare ourselves for a potential disaster– whether it is a natural disaster or an act of terror?
Here is a challenge for you — take a few moments and think about what you have done to protect yourself and your loved ones. How have you prepared for the loss of electricity? No police or fire protection? No heat for your homes or gas for your car? No food at the stores or water in the pipes? Then if you realize that you are not prepared, do something about it. Buy some water and flashlight batteries. Always keep your car’s gas tank half full. Talk to your neighbors. Then you have taken the first steps to being ready, just in case. Not because of fear, but because it is the right thing to do.
Consider this ancient Chinese saying: “Is it not already too late if one waits until one is thirsty to begin digging a well?” *
*”When Technology Fails“, Matthew Stein, Clear Light Publishers, 2000