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Living amidst uncertainty imposed by terror groups

ilocos8 (250x250) (2)Just like the September 11, 2001 attacks by al-Qaeda on the United States, now known as 9/11, November 13, 2015, the day a series of terrorist coordinated attacks hit Paris, has become a day that will forever change how we live.

The ongoing attempts by terrorist organizations such as ISIS or al-Qaeda to destroy anything they consider “evil” and sow fear among the people have continued to create anxiety. Despite the security measures being implemented by various nations, one cannot avoid feeling stressed or uneasy. I am not even sure if things will be back to normal again.

Consider this: a Russian passenger plane blown up over Egypt, suicide bombing in Beirut in 25 years, 14 people celebrating Christmas massacred by terrorists in San Bernardino in California. All this happened toward the end of 2015.

As the New Year begins, I don’t see anything that will convince me that terrorism has been contained (to quote Pres. Barack Obama). In fact, I am beginning to be convinced that terrorism is here to stay. It is the new “normal.”

The shooting just this week of a police officer in Philadelphia by a man who claims to follow Allah and pledge allegiance to the Islamic State group serves as a reminder of this new reality.

The unthinkable is scary. The uncertainty is what bothers me.

When terrorism strikes it does not choose its victims. In many cases, the victims are innocent people, leaving me reeling in shock, surprise and grief. Yet there is nothing that I can do except pray and hope that in the end good will triumph over evil.

With two soon-to-be grandchildren and one who at 21 months old is just beginning to experience life, I am weary that they will grow up in a world where violence, in whatever shape or form, is not a far-fetched possibility.

How things have changed.

Before it was not unusual to be at the airport a few minutes before one’s scheduled flight; no pat-downs, no long lines, and no full body scan where I had to remove my watch, my wallet and my belt that at times I find too inconvenient and bothersome.

It took me a little time to realize that being inconvenient at this day and age is the price of being safe.

But beyond the physical inconvenience is the psychological impact that borders on fear. When I watch on live TV images of university students in Africa brutally and mercilessly killed or tourists being shot at for no reason, the fear rips through my spine. It is not just psychological. It becomes real.

How does one get through this?

I don’t know what the answer is. But one thing I do is not to be intimidated. I refuse to be controlled by anyone or any group. I intend to be myself in the face of any uncertainty.

Simply put, I go about doing my own thing. Thus, I still go to crowded places like the malls, restaurants and movie theaters. Last week, my family watched the play “The Sound of Music” at the crowded 5th Avenue Theater in Seattle.

Funny, but while watching the play, the massacre that had happened in Bataclan Theater in Paris almost two months ago crossed my mind a few times. Bataclan Theater was the place where terrorists identified with ISIS killed 89 spectators while watching an American band, the Eagles of Death Metal.

What if someone from the crowd shouted “Allahu Akbar” and started shooting at the crowd? What would I do? Where is the theater’s emergency exit? What can I use as my sources of cover? Should I escape or lay flat on the floor? When do I fight back knowing that I am not a trained combatant?

Time has really changed.