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The Sky is Falling

The idea of death, the fear of it, haunts the human animal like nothing else; it is a mainspring of human activity—activity designed largely to avoid the fatality of death, to overcome it by denying in some way that it is the final destiny for man.

Ernst Becker, The Denial of Death, 1973

Fear is a potent motivator. Advertisers use this tactic all the time to motivate consumers to purchase products. Fairy Tales are full of fearful characters from The Big Bad Wolf huffing and puffing to The Wicked Witch cooking and eating little Hansel & Gretel.

Fear of WMD's and the infamous "mushroom cloud" became George Bush's raison d'etra for invading Iraq and toppling the dictator Saddam. And now the unintended consequences of that fiasco is the threat posed now by ISIS to western interests at home and abroad.

According to Representative Peter King, R-NY, in an interview on Fox News this morning there are more than a thousand terrorists with western passports now fighting with or aligned with ISIS/ISIL who could potentially threaten the American Homeland. Really? If that is indeed the case what's the average person to do? He doesn't tell us. But what he seems to countenance involves bombing the smithereens out of Syria and Irag as well as placing "boots on the ground." He does find a way to blame President Obama, of course. 

Chicken Little: “Oh, help! The sky is falling!”
Henny Penny: “How do you know?”
Chicken Little: “I saw it with my own eyes, and heard it with my own ears, and part of it fell on my head!”

I get it that the media's job is to report the news. And the brutal killings of journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff are tragic and worthy of the most strenuous condemnation. Our collective condolences go out to their family and friends. But ISIS/ISIL have been murdering people both in Syria and Iraq, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, for quite a while. But not until the murder of these two Americans does the media seem to pay any attention. I get it Foley and Sotloff are not only Americans, but members of the media fraternity. Similarly the media didn't descend on Ferguson, MO until the two reporters were arrested and jailed during a night of unrest.

Rather than providing a knee-jerk "sky is falling" coverage to the on-going situation in Iraq and Syria, The Middle East in general what is required is in-depth sober coverage of cause and effect. Rather than just placing a montage of expected official government reactions as Rachel Maddow did last evening from Obama, Hagel, Kerry and Biden, give us context. In the final analysis the problem isn't America's to solve on its own.

The terrorist goal is to engender fear. To cause the targets of that fear to over react. Or to stick their collective heads in the sand, paralyzed. 

So what's a body to do? If we're so afraid of potential terrorists in our midst it would be a simple enough proposition to have private citizens license and register any and all weapons they currently own or purchase. Background checks ought to be mandatory before being able to purchase assault weapons. Certainly there ought to be tighter restrictions on access to any type of high explosives which can produce mass causalities. And sensitive infrastructure targets can be hardened through tightened security. These are steps within our power as citizens of a representative government to demand.

But nothing we do is going to be foolproof. We must know that life itself isn't risk free. We can't live our lives with an irrational fear of death. Because for all of us death is the inevitable outcome. None of us are getting out of this world alive.