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n. The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.
We can build a bright green society, one which will give our kids a future. We can build a much safer society, one which will increase our kids chances of growing up healthy to live in that future. By and large, the steps involved in building both are the same, and none of them involve color-coded terror alerts. The time has come to stop living in fear, and start building a better world.
Throughout all this, there is a perspective on terrorism that has been very substantially ignored. It can be summarized, somewhat crudely, as follows:
- Assessed in broad but reasonable context, terrorism generally does not do much damage.
- The costs of terrorism very often are the result of hasty, ill-considered, and overwrought reactions.
For all the attention it evokes, terrorism actually causes rather little damage and the likelihood that any individual will become a victim in most places is microscopic. Those adept at hyperbole like to proclaim that we live in “the age of terror.” However, while obviously deeply tragic for those directly involved, the number of people worldwide who die as a result of international terrorism is generally only a few hundred a year, tiny compared to the numbers who die in most civil wars or from automobile accidents. In fact, in almost all years, the total number of people worldwide who die at the hands of international terrorists anywhere in the world is not much more than the number who drown in bathtubs in the United States.
Deep concern about extreme events is not necessarily unreasonable or harmful. Thus, efforts to confront terrorism and reduce its incidence and destructiveness are justified. But hysteria is hardly required. As always, there are uncertainties and risks out there, and plenty of dangers and threats. But none are existential. The sky, as it happens, is unlikely to fall anytime soon.
The word terrorism itself has done more damage than terrorism.