Unjustified terror

These are anxious times. The question is what should we really be anxious about? If we were totally rational creatures we would be more anxious about getting into a car or going into our kitchen than we would about catching a train or a plane. But we are not, and it is right that we are not. We have to accept that there is some level of risk in life. Where we become dumb is in giving exceptional events a greater weight in terms of our personal safety than they deserve.
What happened in Madrid was awful and unforgivable. The response of the Spanish in taking to the streets in solidarity was a magnificent human answer to the twisted logic of the bombers – a democratic response.
But as we have seen over and over again there is a kind of symbiosis between the people who plant bombs and the people in authority whose instincts are essential anti-democratic. The number of voices arguing that the rights won by our ancestors at a cost to their liberties and lives must be sacrificed to guard against the possibility of exceptional events occurring is rising. Moves in that direction are dangerous and, as history has shown us, ineffective. And those seductive voices that promise security should make us afraid – our freedoms are more fragile and more easily eroded than we sometimes imagine.
“So first of all let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
Franklin Roosevelt, March 4, 1933. First inaugural address.