How fearful should we be of terrorism?Answer: horribly fearful if we are caught in the midst of an atrocity. I know if I was near a terrorist attack I would be petrified. But should the anticipation of an atrocity generate fear in our everyday living? If we allow terrorism to generate morbid fear, are we not fulfilling the hopes and desires of the terrorist? In statistical terms our chances of being hurt by a terrorist attack in the western world are infinitesimal in comparison to other things we should be fearful of but aren’t. We are more likely to be killed by cars or the effects of sugar or the consequences of excessive alcohol. Women are more likely to be killed by domestic violence. If we live in America we are statistically more likely to be killed by a gun, either intentionally or accidentally – and by a person we know rather than a terrorist.
Think don’t feel….A cool look at UK official statistics should help us reconsider what we worry about:
- In the UK between 1970 and 1984 there were 2,211 deaths caused by terrorism
- In the UK between 1985 and 1999 there were 1,094 deaths caused by terrorism
- In the UK between 2000 and 2015 there were 90 deaths caused by terrorism
What SHOULD we be afraid of?
By way of contrast to the terrorism statistics:
- In the UK over 100 women every year (NOT every 15 years) are murdered by their partner
- In the UK over 1,700 people are killed every year in road traffic accidents (down from over 3,500 in 2003, which is a good news story but I don’t know why terrorism provokes more fear and outrage than our acceptance of deaths by traffic, given the statistics)
- Hidden sugars in food contribute to obesity, organ disease and diabetes; more people suffer from the food industry’s over-use of sugar than from terrorist atrocities. Why aren’t we afraid of sugar?
- In the UK over 8,000 people every year die as a result of the excess consumption of alcohol, but the scare stories about alcohol are few and far between. We are not afraid of alcohol in the same way we are afraid of terrorism.
Is it the same in the USA?
- In the US in the last decade, fewer than 60 people have been killed by terrorist incidents
- In the US in the last decade, more than 280,000 people have been killed by “violence-related gun deaths”