After Sept. 11: Cope with terror and get on with life

How does one cope with terror? With each passing day, it seems we edge closer to unforeseen perils. Although there is little college students can do to directly impact the war on terrorism, we can aid our nation’s effort indirectly by taking back our lives from the fear al Qaeda attempts to instill in us.

Nightmare scenarios foretelling biological or nuclear doom be damned – we need to live our lives and understand that we are all still alive. Putting aside the required steps our government is taking to bolster our nation’s security, worrying about terror is a wasted pursuit.

Should terrorism return to D.C., either we will be safe or we will fall into harm’s way. In any event, our ability to emerge unscathed is largely left to chance, which means we should lighten up. Go meet that friend for a drink. Go ask that fetching female or handsome he-man out to dinner. Go sing some Billy Idol or Guns ‘n’ Roses before a drunken mass of your friends at the local karaoke watering hole. Whatever you do, just take some risks.

The government is doing the right thing by warning us about credible intelligence. A democratic government sharing timely and credible information with its citizens is always welcome.

However, these warnings fail to amplify a state of alertness already at the highest possible levels since Sept. 11. Evidence of this exists when I observe students’ reactions to the various sirens ringing from police cars, ambulances, fire engines, and motorcades around Foggy Bottom. Being a GW student, one gets accustomed to these loud alarms and can even adjust by working and sleeping through them. After Sept. 11, those blaring sirens tend to quickly evoke dreadful visions more terrorist strikes before our better senses can quell our natural human reactions.

Having the government urge us to employ vigilance, while going about our lives seems like a contradiction in terms, but it is not. If anything, the warnings implore all of us to emerge from our dread and take back our lives with voracity.

President George W. Bush exemplified the government’s message by throwing out the first pitch of the third game of the World Series at Yankee Stadium.

We can enhance our nation’s effort by disarming al Qaeda’s primary weapon – fear. Removing fear from our lives will be onerous and require courage and strength. It is too bad for al Qaeda and all enemies of democracy that the free world has bountiful amounts of both.

– The writer, a senior majoring in business economics and public policy, is a Hatchet staff writer.

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