Vincent Price used to say, fear is the most primal emotion.
If not a phobia (an exaggerated fear of a real
danger) or a paranoia (an unfounded fear of an imagined danger),
fear is a healthy instinct, provoking an adrenalin rush, in the "fight, flight, or fright" syndrome. But we cannot find all
the terrorists to fight them; and attacked at home, we cannot
fly from them. So we are left to face our fears.
We cannot afford to underestimate our enemies,
but we should not overstate the risks. Who is more foolish: The
pacifist who cries, "The terrorists won't get lucky again"
or the hysteric who hordes his supply of Cipro?
Because fear, like hope, is our attempt to deal
with the unknown, it is impossible to know exactly what to
Take the other evening. I was reading at my
desk, when a noisy plane flew low and slow overhead. A minute
later, I heard a series of explosions; and looking outside, I
saw the entire sky over Arcadia suddenly lit by a huge orange
fire-ball! It turned out to be fireworks, but what did you
We cannot let the terrorists paralyze us with
fear, nor should we quarrel amongst ourselves as we wait for the
next shoe to drop (whatever, wherever, if ever it does). But
even an ostrich doesn't really hide its head in the sand when
The media must continue to report the risks,
without sensationalizing or sugarcoating them; and we will
overcome the threats, both real and imagined. That's what
adult Americans do.