By Nicole Kobie

There is a strange phenomenon occurring in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001.

People who are in absolutely no danger are acting as though they are standing below the World Trade Center. Both the Telus Convention Centre and Banker’s Hall, for example, were reportedly evacuated, and events there cancelled. Did people really think the terrorists who took out important landmarks like the WTC and the Pentagon would even consider a skyscraper in Calgary as a target? Calgary is not the world-class city it thinks it is–no terrorist is going to go kamikaze on us anytime soon.

So why the lockdowns, the evacuations and the fear? Any rational person must realize they’re in no danger. However, people were obviously not being rational. The secure feeling, the freedom from danger, the ability to live unafraid was ripped away from people not just in the States, but worldwide. Evacuating buildings, beefing up security, and Ralph Klein screaming for backup in case someone steals our oil and gas, serves to make us feel better and more secure, like a child’s safety blanket. If it can happen to them, it can happen to anyone, anywhere.

We have been victimized. The goal of terrorists is not to kill people, though they do that. Their aim is to instill fear and terror into our lives. They want us to feel the way people feel in Belfast, in Jerusalem and in other fear-filled cities across the globe.

In other words, that fear you’re feeling? That’s what they want you to feel. That uneasiness and disorientation? That means they’ve won. Even if Bush and his armies track down those responsible and subject them to the most horrible, painful deaths, they’ve still won. And if they are allowed to make us afraid, they’ve succeeded. I refuse accept that our society allows murderers–those who would do such horrific, indescribable acts–to win.

So don’t change. Don’t start beleiving in a war mentality. Don’t live your life in fear. It’s easier said than done. Every time a plane flies a little too low overhead, every time you board a jet, and every time you see the New York skyline, you will remember. You will be afraid.

And if you must be afraid, let it be a rational fear. Nervousness every time you step on a plane doesn’t cause chaos. Hating and abusing any group because they may have the same home country as the terrorist creates a climate I don’t want to be a part of. Remember the internment camps of the World War II? Irrational fears led to the forcing of Japanese-Americans into camps–camps that share many similarities to the concentration camps in Germany. While the Americans fought persecution, they were guilty of it themselves. This can’t be allowed to happen now. If irrational fears are allowed to dictate the actions of the American Government and wrong decisions are made–decisions based on racism and assumptions–the subsequent reaction will be nothing less than state-sponsored terrorism.

Instead of feeling fear, feel sorrow, feel disgust, feel anger. Don’t think about how it could have been you–it wasn’t. Think instead of all the pain and suffering people have endured.

Reeling with emotions, as everyone was on Tuesday, it’s understandable that we all panicked, that we all felt lost. Now that things have sunk in, realize this: the world is not over, but it will change. But let it occur out of need, not unnecessary fear. Any changes that prevent this from ever happening again, I welcome. Any changes to who we are and what we believe in mean they’ve already won.

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