I always struggle to digest the news of terrorism, like most people probably do – from Paris to California, and now Brussels, the latest target on the growing list of mass terrorist attacks.
As a compassionate person, I have a hard time understanding how some people can have such disregard for human life. I don’t understand how people can be so purposefully cruel, and I don’t understand how someone could be capable of taking so many innocent lives so quickly – it all just reinforces the idea that this world is dark and bad and broken.
And yes, this world is scary. Yes, there are plenty of things to be afraid of every single day – even down to the simplest things, like starting your car every morning. But when I read story after story reporting the casualties, describing the explosions, perpetuating the fear, I have to stop and remind myself that good things still exist.
The reason why the media always report bad things is because bad things are always newsworthy – there’s actually a list of seven different factors to help determine if something is newsworthy, but that’s a lesson for another time – and the bad things almost always hit all seven of those factors, or at least the majority of them. So that’s why the front page is full of headlines about terrorist attacks, political scandals, shootings, financial crises, natural disasters, you name it. If you spend your whole life watching the world through the eyes of news reporters, you’ll spend your whole life thinking the world is a pretty bad place, and you’ll miss all the good stuff that happens around you.
And there are plenty of good things. There are still people who help, love, and comfort. I read several stories about Parisians sacrificing time, money, and security to help others in the middle of the attack, and the same thing happened in Brussels yesterday morning. In the midst of something as horrible as a terrorist attack, people still do good things because it’s human nature to see suffering and to offer help. Even the littlest things in day-to-day life, like paying for a stranger’s Starbucks drink, praying for someone, giving change to a homeless person; those are good things, and I think all of that collectively outweighs the bad.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t be afraid. It’s OK to be afraid, or anxious, or apprehensive. But you shouldn’t let that fear rule your life.
In one of my favorite articles from CondÃ© Nast Traveler about why we should continue to visit places like Paris and Brussels, the writer says, “It’s glib to say we won’t fear. We will, a little bit. In Paris. In New York. In Berlin and London, Madrid and Amsterdam, Beirut and Tehran. We’ll second-guess ourselves, sense the prick of anxiety, even on gentle evenings in the most obscure and insignificant neighborhoods, even when we’re doing no more than meeting a friend for a drink. But if we do it – when we do it – we’ll be making life. And that, after all, is why we’re here.”