As we see the images of the recent terror attacks in Brussels it is hard to see a way out. It is almost impossible to imagine a time when the fear of terror will be a distant memory or a day when we will no longer be looking over our shoulders. Juxtapose the surreal reality of this horrible day with the surreal arrogance of the opportunistic Presidential candidates. They chomp at the bit to look presidential as they outline what they would do to defeat ISIS and terror “believe me,” they say. The reality is, there is no foreseeable path to win.
How does anyone proclaim that they can win while the experts who have been fighting this scourge for decades struggle to keep their heads above water, let alone keep up? Does the exterminator say that he can kill all the cockroaches? Would you believe him if he did? We just hope he can kill the ones we can see, even though there are thousands more that we do not see lurking in the shadows, just beyond our sight. When it is dark and quiet we think we can hear them scurrying and we know they are there. The monsters from today however, hide in plain sight and we do not know they are there until it is much too late… This is terror.
Today Israelis say ‘Je suis Bruxelles’ and look on with particular horror, understanding and empathy, as they are keenly aware of the impact that terror plays on a community, a nation and its people. A people that share a collective PTSD, which has manifested itself as a result of decades of not knowing when the ‘next one’ will happen: When will the next bus blow up, the next siren sound or next rocket be launched? Will my neighbour or grocer or the old women at the bus stop plunge a knife in my back as I wait to take the long ride home to my family?
The not knowing when but knowing it will happen becomes a heavy weight that is often difficult to carry, particularly for kids. Soon, this stress becomes your normal and all you know is, that you do not know… when. And as each day goes by and a new headline tallies the dead and injured, we must come to the grim realization that this may be our new normal.
I spoke with a friend in Israel a few months ago who told me the current situation is far worse than during the war with Gaza in the summer of 2014. “At least then we had the Iron Dome,” he said. “You knew the enemy was somewhere else and you had warning of an incoming attack”. The situation that currently exists has every citizen wondering if the person beside them is their enemy; will the Arab neighbour you have known for years one day decide to attack you like someone hypnotized to bark like a dog when commanded. Will someone please count backwards from 10 and clap their hands to break this spell? This is terror.
The world knows something has to change. Something has to be done – Those who are tasked with keeping the civilized world safe must be faster and act quicker than the angels of death. My mother asked me today what kind of world my son and daughter will inherit; it troubled me to think of that but even more troubling is to think, if they should have kids, what kind of world might they inherit. As evil spreads, the world gets smaller; our Shire is under attack. As we try to look forward, we will be forced to continually look over our shoulders. Regardless of our advanced world, technology and all of its wonders, we are bound to be held back by the most primitive… This is terror.