Friday, June 08, 2007

Stop Being Terrified

I can't tell you how many times over the past few years a parent, grandparent or elderly relative said something to the effect of "I feel so sorry for the world your children are growing up in." Inevitably, this statement would be made after some news story regarding terrorism.

And every time this happened, I would be be surprised. Surprised because in each case, the person telling me this lived through WWII, the Cold War, Viet Nam, et. al. These people lived through one of the bloodiest centuries, when madmen like Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot controlled countries, yet it is Osama Bin Laden, a international thug that has to hide in caves to survive, that has them so fatalistic.

I've never been able to understand this phenomenon, and it is something that I want to fight. We shouldn't live our lives in fear, or else the terrorists are really winning (sorry to go all "Bush" there). As usually, Bill Clinton has this nailed down. Here's what he said in a speech at Harvard.

Now remember a few months ago, everybody I knew was shaking their head when we found out that there was a plot in London to put explosive chemicals in a baby bottle to make it look like formula to evade the airport inspection. And every time I ask somebody, I said did you feel a chill go up and down your spine, they said yeah, they did. Because they can imagine being on the airplane, or in my case, I could imagine my daughter, who has to travel a lot on her job, being on the airplane. But here’s what I want to tell you about that. The inequality is fixable and the insecurity is manageable. We’re going to really have to go some in the 21st century to see political violence claim as many innocent lives as it did in the 20th century. Keep in mind you had what, 12 million people killed in World War I, somewhere between 15 and 20 million in World War II, six million in the Holocaust, six million Jews, three million others. Twenty million in the political purges in the former Soviet Union between the two world wars and one afterward. Two million in Cambodia alone. Millions in tribal wars in Africa. An untold but large number in the Chinese Cultural Revolution. I mean, we’re going to have to really get after it, if you expect your generation to claim as many innocents from political violence as was claimed in the 20th century. The difference is you think it could be you this time. Because of the interdependence of the world. So yes, it’s insecure but it’s manageable.


At 3:44 PM, Blogger Paddy said...


At 4:33 PM, Blogger GottaLaff said...

I'm sorry, what was that? A voice of reason? Does...not...compute.

Seriously, BC, thanks for getting this out there.

At 5:37 PM, Blogger BC said...

I like to think of myself as reasonable, but what makes the generation that stared down Hitler so afraid of Bin laden? Where is the disconnect for our "greatest generation"

At 7:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Over 40,000 deaths "per year" related to cars in the USA. 6,000 of those are under 21.

At 12:05 AM, Anonymous dmichael said...

If you want to see and hear the entire Clinto speeck go to:

It is about 2/3rds of the way through that program. It is worth it, I watched it although quite tired.


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