A New York State of Mind

In the ongoing fight against terrorism, fear permeates the West. Attacks can come at any time without warning. Nonetheless, fear should not disrupt our lives. If fear drives our behavior, terrorists revel in knowing that they have disrupted civilian life. After the bombings on September 17th in New York City and nearby New Jersey, New Yorkers reacted ideally to the attacks.

Instead of signaling disarray, New Yorkers went on about their lives. “I heard the explosion, then I went to the deli,” stated a caller to NY1. New Yorker Sarah Peele tweeted that shortly after hearing the bombing from a short distance away, she went out for noodles, much to her mother’s chagrin. This seems to be a typical New York way of behaving: residents push on, despite whatever atrocities may occur around them. Fear did not stop these New Yorkers from living their lives.

For New Yorkers, the nonchalant reaction to violence is “a normal thing.” Americans across the nation should emulate this behavior to deter attacks. While it is far from the only way to prevent attacks, and may or may not actually prevent any, it gives the average American a way in which he or she can assist in the fight against terrorism.

One of the big motivators of terrorism, according to the 2003 CIA National Strategy for Combatting Terrorism, is to “subvert the rule of law and effect change through violence and fear.” By not giving in to fear and continuing to go about our lives as we normally would, we can triumph over those who seek to sabotage Western civilization.

Refusing to live in fear may not only discourage radical extremists from perpetrating attacks, but also sends the message that we are a strong and resilient society—that we will not let these barbaric acts disturb our lives.

While it is important to ensure that fear does not disrupt our lives, it is also important to maintain a healthy level of vigilance. Maintaining vigilance can help prevent further attacks by allowing one to notice something out of the ordinary.

Just this past Wednesday, Lee Parker and Ian White, two homeless men from Elizabeth, New Jersey, notified police that an abandoned backpack they found by a train station garbage can appeared to be a bomb. Their vigilance likely saved lives that day, as the backpack contained five pipe bombs.

While it may seem odd to some that New Yorkers remain so calm in the face of terror, their reaction is the appropriate way for the average person to behave to help deter terrorism. Go about your life as you normally would, and do not let fear keep you from living a normal lifestyle. Adopt a New York state of mind: do not let fear define your entire existence.