I don’t know what will make me feel better, safe, or more secure. I do know that hashtags encouraging me to pray for London, watching candlelight vigils, or holding my hands in the shape of heart do nothing for my soul. These actions leave me cold and numb. The global Kum-Ba-Yah crowd has again assembled to tell the world how we are not afraid of bearded, knife, wielding, erratically driving men knocking us off in groups of 10 or less in the name of Allah. It’s my hunch, these services and songs leave the terrorists (would be and active) pleased with what they see. Other than statements of non-fear is anyone on the same page at these gatherings?
We must be a little afraid, or we wouldn’t be pretending so hard that we’re not afraid. Resistance to terror has now become daily living. We stand up to terror by being afraid and still going to work, crossing, bridges, and going shopping; at least that’s what we’re told. Let me tell you a secret, even on a good day, when I know a terrorist isn’t trying to run me over, I’m a little scared to cross the street. I know people drive like drunken idiots. I’m scared and afraid, just a little, on the sunniest and happiest days of my life. When I lived in Northern Ireland, I lived with a little bit of fear that I might be blown up because some radical faction of the IRA who never signed on to the peace process had a problem with the police and I would die at the wrong place at the wrong time. This fear stayed with me when I went to the grocery store, to the university, and to pick up our children from school. I lived with fear and my “normal” life. The fear wasn’t in my head. The bomb threats were real. The car searches occurred. My life didn’t stop. However, the fear was always present.
So I’m kind of frustrated when civic leaders and religious figures tell us it’s not OK to be afraid. We will not cower to the terrorists. No, I don’t believe in cowering but I do believe in admitting when I’m scared. Scripture is full of examples, in fact, of people doing both. Asking me to deny my fear in the face of tragedy is telling me to deny my humanity. If I deny my humanity, the terrorists win automatically. I think fear is an appropriate response to people being killed in the street. If we weren’t a little scared, we’d all be insane. We need appropriate amounts of fear to survive. Fear shouldn’t control our lives but we can’t ignore the realities we face by pretending danger doesn’t exist.