Terror state of mind

Pooja Gupta | SIPA, Class of 2018

Just weeks after the 15th anniversary of the historical 9/11 terrorist attacks, a bomb explosion in the heart of New York City left New Yorkers bleeding. It was my third week in New York, a city 8,000 miles and a different time zone away from my home country.

It’s funny how, as a product of the 21st century, we live in a world of contradictions. On one hand, the world has become smaller and more informed with the advancement of technology and speed of information. On the other hand, this accessibility of information enables an individual to make an explosive out of readily available cooking material sitting on his/her dining table. The contradiction – in today’s great era of innovation and evolution, is a pressure cooker all that is really needed to paralyze the world?

This question prompts me to talk about my experience of the bombing last Saturday. Reading an update of a bomb explosion on my phone would normatively trigger feelings of fear, anxiety and helplessness. But this time I was surprisingly numb and unaffected. What had happened? Was I an aberration? The buzzing Saturday night fever witnessed on the streets of New York proved otherwise.

This got me wondering. Why do terrorist attacks fail to terrorize me anymore? Maybe it’s the fact that as 30 people were wounded in Chelsea, 17 soldiers were killed during combat in India. Or maybe it’s the fact that while the bomb in Chelsea did go off, 30 per cent of Sub-Saharan Africans are living on a ticking time bomb of lack of access to sanitation, helplessly waiting for it to go off one day.

It could also have been that while, for the hour after the attack, the lives of many were in chaos, an estimated statistic states that 78 American women are raped every hour, wrecking their world into chaos for the rest of their lives. Maybe my lack of response to terror is my response to terror. As we see terrorism taking various forms – jihad (international and domestic), gender inequality and violence, narco- terrorism, economic disparity, corruption – terror is no longer an outlier in our world. It has become a way of life and a state of mind.

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