People, stop being afraid. Please. It’s hurting the rest of us.
You’re afraid of terrorists because 130 people were killed in France. That loss of life is sad, yes, but France has a population of 66 million people and about 130 of them were killed by terrorists in 2015 (so far). Even if the number goes up to 1,000 by the end of the year, that’s still 0.001% of the population. In France, about 50,000 people will die in 2015 from heart disease, another 40,000 from stroke, and another 40,000 from lung cancer. If you’re French, you are more than 350 times more likely to die from heart disease than from a terrorist, but which risk is having a greater impact on public policy? Which is sparking more fear?
My feed is full of posts telling me that I am seven or ten or one hundred times more likely to be killed by a white domestic terrorist than a Muslim extremist in the United States. That may be true, but in 2015 no more than a couple dozen people have been killed by any kind of terrorist, black, white, brown, or green. Even if the number is 1000, that’s still a very small number of people, in a country of 319 million. An estimated 2.6 million people die in the United States every year. About 610,000 from heart disease, 590,000 from cancer, 41,000 from intentional self-harm (suicide), and 10,000 from drunk driving. In the last 15 years, about 3,000 were killed by foreign terrorists, mostly in a single year. In the same span of time, about 150,000 were killed by drunk drivers.
We will all die somehow, and I’m not saying that we shouldn’t find ways to prevent deaths that are preventable. I’m not saying that we should let people die, and I’m not trying to minimize the loss that people feel when anybody dies. What I’m saying is that the things we FEAR the most are the things that are the least likely to kill us. That alone doesn’t bother me, but the way that these fears divide us, the way these fears make us lash out at each other and treat other human beings like crap. They way that these fears lead to wars and needless deaths. That’s what bothers me.
We can work to make our lives better. We can find ways to prevent needless deaths, but I think it’s most important to make the best of the lives we have, and for that, we need to stop living in fear. We don’t think clearly when we’re afraid. We don’t make good decisions when we’re afraid.
We aren’t more safe when we’re afraid. We’re just more unhappy. Enough. Please.
[I posted this on Facebook yesterday, but wanted to keep it safe and sound here too.]