What if It’s Terrorists?

Lately, I’ve seen a number of well done articles on the wide-ranging effects of the  9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Lyz Best’s piece in Runner's World magazine about the ways in which the 9/11 attacks have motivated people to begin running, and/or to run farther and faster resonated with me as a runner. Cynthia Reynolds and Shannon Smith's argument that the attacks have destroyed our children’s innocence hit me as a mother.

No longer do our children feel the safety and security that once existed in generations past. They now live with a heightened sense of anxiety and fear of the potential for another terrorist calamity. Children often become afraid that such an event will happen again, and that they or their family may be injured or killed.”

I grew up under the influence of another diffused war, or one that exists as much as an incarnation of everyday media as it does in reality. The mediated social construction of the Cold War in books and films as well as in the news arguably “both facilitate[d] and contain[ed]” the Soviets in much the same way that it does Al Qaeda today.  Yet with the exception of the Soviets’ arrival in Colorado in the 1984 movie Red Dawn and images of what most regarded as a highly unlikely nuclear apocalypse, the “bad guys” stayed conveniently outside of the United States, and were clearly identifiable – by their bulky coats, Russian fur hats, and heavy accents – from our neighbors and classmates.

The differences between then and now hit me last week when my ten-year-old son, Parker, found a tiny video card on the sidewalk outside of our local Rubio's restaurant. Of course, Parker wanted to keep it. Just before that part of me that immediately thought, “Sure…” could articulate itself, the kids were arguing. Certain that they would not get to investigate what might be on the card, Parker’s older siblings yelled, “Drop it!” Parker loudly insisted on keeping it. I tried the “Take it into Rubio’s in case someone comes looking for it” tack. Parker screamed louder, really fighting to hang onto this tiny bit of 21st-century technology.

“Parker, just put it down,” I said, clearly exasperated.

“No!”

“Why do you want it so badly? ” I asked – with more parental aggravation than motherly concern, I’m afraid.

“I have to see what’s on it,” Parker explained.

“Who cares? It’s not yours…” I said.

“What if it’s terrorists?” Parker asked. “What if they left it for someone? What if they’re planning an attack?”

“Whoa!” I thought, dumbstruck. (In retrospect, this reaction beats laughing out loud.)

What I said was something like, “Parker, just put it down. I don’t think the card has anything to do with terrorists. Someone just dropped it.”

Reluctantly, he left the card on the edge of a planter and we headed towards the car.

Perhaps the difference between the War on Terror and the Cold War boils down to relative the comfort inherent in the widely understood low probability of unintentional nuclear annihilation at the hands of leaders very far removed from everyday life. When I was ten, it never occurred to me that Soviet supporters might launch an attack in my Southern California “backyard.”

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One Response to “What if It’s Terrorists?”

  1. Far From Home « University of Venus Says:

    [...] post on the effects of the 9/11 attacks on children, including my younger son: http://www.3sisters7days.com/blog/?p=2325 36.778261 -119.417932 Share this:StumbleUponDiggRedditLike [...]

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