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Living with Terrorism

To live with terror is to wake up each morning and to feel that nothing belongs to you – your mate, your children, your life, the streets you walk through, the coffee shop you sit in with friends, the building which houses your office, your computer, your new stockings. Everything can be taken from you in the blink of an eye –destroyed, ravaged, turned into a rubble of torn metal, flesh, fabric. The idea that it can and will happen without a trial, lawyers, jury, the right to appeal: you, yours, all you ever thought was yours by birth, by right, by law, by simple human decency will be stolen from you by someone you never met, who doesn’t even know your name, who will become your self-appointed judge, jury, and executioner.

To live with terror is to wake every morning and count your blessings, all those you love who’ve survived one more day whole, unharmed, untouched.

To live with terror is to lie in bed and dread what lies beyond this hour, this minute, this second. But also to breathe more deeply and notice the sky, hear the click of coffee spoons, smell the fragrant, brewed cup. It is to taste each mouthful and take no second chance for granted.

To live with terror is to suspect each stranger, to cherish each friend, to love more deeply, hate more unforgivingly. It is to have no tolerance for the morally confused who waver, who say: “Yes, but, on the other hand,” to have no tolerance for those who still claim nothing is black and white.

To live with terror is to see the dividing line, the demarcation between good and evil like a white road marker: never was anything more clear, more simple, more stark, than that which divides those who kill from those that are killed – the scum of the earth from innocent noncombatants.

To live with terror is to live more profoundly, in greater touch with truth, good, God, life, innocence, longing, fear, love, compassion, vengeance, and hope. It is a life that loses inevitability but gains depth. It is a life that loses the sense of freedom, safety, justice, logic, and predictability, replacing them with clarity, despair, physical alertness, and adaptability.

To live with terror is to live life always with a sense of imminent endings, but never to lose hope that one day things will go back to being the same again, each day, day after day.

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