Which would you rather take your chances on: (A) getting
anthrax through your mail, or (B) getting hit by a drunken
driver on America's highways. Everyone has probably read the
statistics by now, so I will only briefly comment on that.
According to one of the charts I have seen, your current
chances of getting infected with the anthrax bacteria are 1 in
500 million. Your chances of getting killed in a car accident
are 1 in 7000. And your chances of dying from anything
this year are 1 in 130.
One person died
from inhaled anthrax on October 5, 2001. The terror and the
sadness of this is not to be diminished. The potential for
more anthrax-related deaths is not to be underestimated.
Why does the
public seem to perceive anthrax as more deadly than drunken
driving? Why does terrorism seem like more of a threat to the
American way of life than alcoholism, drug addiction, domestic
violence, and child abuse? If the social and psychological
ills of society were taken as seriously as anthrax, we would
be united in humanitarian and spiritual values as well as in
infection is so far rare, but psychogenic illness among the
populace is reported to be vast. The anxiety level is high.
People become hysterical over the appearance of any white
powdery substance. People want antibiotics. Nobody wants to
take that 1 in 500 million chance of dying from anthrax.
that the anthrax incidents are terrorist acts. People know
that terrorism is not only deadly, not only a threat to the
American way of life, but also a threat to the sovereignty of
our nation. Perhaps people cannot express this rationally,
but it seems obvious that they feel it deeply. If any
terrorist organization overpowered America, the fruits of our
freedom and prosperity would cease to exist. Our history
would be erased. We would live under the political and social
oppression of foreign invaders.
drug addiction, domestic violence, and child abuse do not
threaten national sovereignty. These are family and community
problems. The solutions to these problems are often
obstructed by denial and secrecy. Few people seek help.
Those families who have not directly experienced these
problems often stigmatize those who have. Friends and
neighbors often do not want to become involved. The
generations go on, however imperfect or dysfunctional, and
some of these individuals will become achievers who contribute
to the American way of life we want to preserve.
People seem to
fear extinction when it is the intention of rather than the
by-product of human behavior. Anxious people need a lot of
emotional reassurance and practical guidance. We can all
safeguard our existence by bringing certain things under our
control. We can drive with courtesy, help a neighbor, face
unpleasant realities with courage and resolve, and keep those
American flags waving long after the war is won.
(Written 10/15/01 - Revised 12/01/03: bibliography available.)
Until we meet