I’ve been watching along with millions worldwide the terror attacks in Paris. One of the terrorists apparently entered the European Union through Greece on an invalid Syrian passport. Everyone is on edge. After the recent onboard bombing of a Russian jet over the Sinai, ISIS has elevated itself to a higher level of danger than we’ve ever experienced.
Regarding the Russian airliner, Russians and Brits were evacuated out of Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh area, a popular winter resort for northern Europeans. People are canceling travel plans for Paris or France.
During my year as an expat in Europe, the world experienced terror attacks, obviously. One attack occurred in Turkey, Another in Egypt. Lebanon and Tunisia were attacked, too.
Now, the City of Light has been attacked. People were slaughtered doing normal, every day things–having a meal, drinking coffee, attending a concert. Activities Parisians, and most Westerners, love were targeted.
I get comments from people about how fortunate I am to be back in America where we are safe. Terrorism isn’t (or doesn’t seem to be) as ubiquitous here. We’re strong. We’re safe. We’re on our toes.
Yet, the opposite attitude was true when I was in Europe. I would get comments and questions many times from people who expressed fear about traveling to America. People were convinced that gunfights occur with alarming regularity on the streets of America.
In their minds, everyone is walking around packing heat. It is their considered opinion that all Americans are just a snide remark away from being cut down by a mental midget with a Glock.
And therein lies the difference. I’ve lived and traveled extensively in both places. Here are the facts:
Most people will not be the victim of a terrorist plot.
Most people will not be the victim of gun violence.
It is safe to walk down the streets of any major city in Europe. I found the same to be true in Marrakech, Cairo, Jerusalem and Istanbul.
It is probably safer to walk down the streets of European cities than most American cities.
People are not being blown away daily on the streets of every city in America.
I suppose all these fears have to do with the media. Since the Paris attacks, the media has been breathless about ISIS and where it will strike next. Brits have canceled school trips to Paris. Germans are warning about travel to France.
You know what I tell people? Paris is probably the safest city to visit on the planet right now. Why? Because the terrorist attacks have already happened. Paris and France are on high alert. The military, the government, the police, NATO, everyone is now watching everything and everyone with suspicion. The terrorists know this. They have moved on and are planning their next target. They’ve already warned New York, London and Tokyo.
The same holds true in Europe and elsewhere overseas when looking at the U.S. Americans are not involved in Old West-style gunfights on our streets. We don’t dodge gunfire when we head to the mall, church or school. The gun violence that occurs, while reprehensible and heartbreaking, is not happening everywhere.
I guess the point is that we, as a people, as a country, as a society, as a race need to be diligent and on alert but not automatically assume that everything has fallen apart just because Fox, CNN and MSNBC along with their hysterical talking heads continue to harp on something.
Remember to think for yourself. Remember that the media has a business model. If it sells, they will report on it until we vomit. Remember to question everything. Question leaders. Question those who are in the know, or appear to be in the know.
Don’t take things at face value just because it soothes your socio-political views. Lazy thinking is certainly not what we need in this world. Intelligence, knowledge and awareness are.