15 Nov Rick Steves’ Response to Terrorism in Paris
Many of us have been shaken up by the attacks in Paris Friday night. Paris is probably my favorite city in the world. Having an Uncle, Aunt, and cousin who live in the city, the news hit close to home. Thank God, they are all fine.
I’ve noticed that people have gut reactions about how to respond to horrible events like this. Beneath these various reactions and responses are often an underlying fear. In any situation, responding in fear is essentially a self-preservation instinct. Fear is a handy part of our human repetoir because it helps us survive. But do responses made out of fear bring more peace? Do they restore order? Do they inspire love, kindness, and reconciliation? Whatever our response, I think it’s important to examine our underlying motivation and the long-term impact of our reactions. Experiencing fear is natural, but we shouldn’t let it make our decisions.
I found Rick Steves’ response to this weekend’s events to be really interesting, and I thought it was worth sharing here. He talks about having the choice to be terrorized or not. Some of his comments are perhaps a bit controversial. But I’ve always agreed with his belief that travel has the power to improve international relations and world peace (see Beyond Vacation: The Value of Travel). See what you think. Below is the article Rick Steves posted on his blog:
After Friday’s horrifying events in Paris, as we keep the victims and their families in our prayers and marvel at how violent hatred can express itself, it’s natural for those of us with travels coming up to wonder what is the correct response. Let me share my thoughts:
I have two fundamental concerns: what is safe, and what is the appropriate response to terrorism.
About safety, I believe this is an isolated incident. Tomorrow Paris will be no more dangerous than it was the day before that terrible Friday the 13th. I also believe that security in Paris and throughout Europe will be heightened in response to this attack. Remember: There’s an important difference between fear and risk.
About the right response to terrorism, I believe we owe it to the victims of this act not to let the terrorist win by being terrorized. That’s exactly the response they are hoping for. Sure, it’s natural for our emotions to get the best of us. But, especially given the impact of sensational media coverage, we need to respond intelligently and rationally.
In 2004, Madrid suffered a terrorist bombing in its Metro, which killed 191 and injured 1,800. In 2005, London suffered a similar terrorist bombing in its Tube system, killing 52 and injuring 700. These societies tightened their security, got the bad guys, and carried on. Paris will, too.
I’m sure that many Americans will cancel their trips to Paris (a city of 2 million people) or the rest of Europe (a continent of 500 million people), because of an event that killed about 150. As a result, ironically, they’ll be staying home in a country of 320 million people that loses over 30,000 people a year (close to 100 people a day) to gun violence.
Again, our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Paris, the victims, and their loved ones. And it remains my firmly held belief that the best way for Americans to fight terrorism is to keep on traveling.
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