The Realities of Terror

In the midst of letters of anthrax and soldiers with M-16s at the airport, it’s a little difficult to get you arms around the current situation in America. The land of the free and home of the brave has become the land of fearful and home of the terrorized.

And in part, we do it to ourselves. Time reported that the FBI was called in when a woman found a mysterious white powder on her keyboard. False alarm. She’d been eating a cookie. It’s rare comic relief like this that makes me feel better, but then I start worrying that all Americans could be this stupid.

One thing I have learned this past week is that now every American has a tiny taste of what it’s like to live somewhere else. We are a privileged nation. As much as I complain about my loans, my bills, my desperate poverty — I am rich. The fear and apprehension that’s sweeping across the land is a tiny inkling of what some people go though every day. They live in fear and oppression. Bombs go off in their streets all the time. Watching someone die is a common occurrence.

In many parts of the world you don’t have the option of eating in or going out. You don’t get to decide if Friday night will be a movie night or a game night. You don’t get to decide if you’ll watch the big game on Sunday afternoon or mow the lawn. You don’t have the option of taking your beloved to the park for a romantic afternoon.

Some people in the world have bigger problems. They worry about their children having enough food, and don’t have time to worry that they’re not eating. They work long hours in poor conditions for minimal earnings, and put it all towards medicines for ailing relatives. They’re oppressed and afflicted by dictators, drug dealers, over-zealous police forces, and yes, terrorist groups.

No one else in the world lives in the comfort we have in the United States, comfort that was made a little less comfortable on September 11. And as much as I hate to say it, we need to realize that God didn’t put us here to be comfortable. He didn’t tell us that we’d always be happy, always be safe, always content.

It’s time to leave our superpower uppity-ness behind us, and embrace a world of hurting people. Are you scared as you stand in line at the airport, eyeing the National Guardsmen and their rifles? Do you fear for your loved ones as they leave the house in the morning? Do you pause before opening your mailbox, wondering what diseases may be coming first class? Do you brace yourself before turning on the news or looking at the front page of the paper? Now you have a small taste of the every day existence of the common person. The Bible calls us to be in this world–and notice that the command refers to the whole world, not just the comfort of America. Life is not microwaves and fast food and instant cash. It is pain and hardship and suffering and the persevering love that someone how comes through. Ask anyone in the world.

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