I was asked, following the shooting event at the airport in Ft. Lauderdale, do you think the world is a more dangerous place now than at any point in our lives?
I don’t believe it is. As we have concentrations of people in one location, events become more likely due to proximity and density of population. It doesn’t mean it is more frequent, perhaps more publicized these days, even more sensationalized with 24 hour news channels. While it is important to be aware and take common sense precautions, living life with paranoia and irrational fear is unnecessary.
The truth of the matter is that more people are killed by falling televisions and furniture than terrorism each year. Fearfulness over what we do in the event of a shooter is far less necessary than how we take precautions about skin cancer, for example. Daniel Kahneman, of Princeton University observed that even “in countries of intensive terrorism, such as Israel, the weekly number of casualties almost never comes close to the number of traffic deaths.” It is the infrequency of the events that makes it so noteworthy. Because we drive daily, and hear of traffic accidents so often, we filter out the information. But a mass shooting is so infrequent that it causes us to highlight it.
Control what you can, just like your vehicle. Keep good tires, check the brakes, and buckle your seatbelt. We take these precautions and move forward. We don’t decide to stop driving or to drive a tank to be safe.
There is a far greater risk of sinful attitudes and language against groups or cultures of people than the risk of “those people” acting out in terror. For us to focus on what we can’t control (the behavior of others), while failing to focus on our attitudes and beliefs (things we must control) is a misplaced effort.
Paul tells us, “The Lord is faithful and will strengthen you and protect you against the evil one.” (2 Thessalonians 3:3) We need to arm ourselves with the fruit of the Spirit, trust the power of the all-powerful God, and live in the shadow of his wing. This is a much more productive use of our energies.