Tragic events seem to be cascading upon us from throughout the world almost on a daily basis.
Whereas for the past 15 years (since 9/11), a terrorist-inspired event might happen sporadically, now when we go on-line each morning to look at the latest news, we find ourselves reading about some terrible act committed either by ISIS-inspired terrorists, politically-motivated individuals (Dallas and Baton Rouge), racist or poorly-trained police officers, or simply drunken losers (Nice, France).
Politicians, commentators, and all of us search for a common thread in such acts because to be able to rationalize such horrible deeds would allow us to make sense of them and come up with a plan to deal with them.
For example, when we go to war, that is a fairly easy thing to conceptualize. We can identify our enemies and set ourselves on a mission to destroy them.
But the tragedies that have occurred both abroad and at home are not so easily solvable. We can do everything from carpet-bombing the desert in the vain hope of getting rid of ISIS’s Middle East leaders, to imposing sensible gun laws, and to training our police to better-handle stressful situations, but deep down, we know there is no magic-bullet solution to the violence that is taking so many innocent human lives.
At times such as these, common-sense solutions — not panic — are what is called for. Further, as uncertain as the world may seem, we cannot yield to the impulse to retreat into a shell. The French consulate in Boston went ahead with its annual Bastille Day celebration in the Back Bay despite the calls by some to put it off. Capitulating to those who seek to deprive us of our freedoms by voluntarily curtailing our freedoms essentially means that they have won — and we must never allow that to happen.
Inspiration and leadership are sorely lacking from most the world’s democratically-elected heads of state, and we are not expecting much from the conventions on either side of the political fence in these next few days.
So unfortunately we must look backwards to find the right words to serve as our guiding principle in times such as these, and Franklin D. Roosevelt said it best at the height of the Depression:
“The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.”