Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Fear Factor 

Fear is a fugue that runs beneath modern existence with its melodies twisting everything we see and do slightly askew. Sorry for the poetic statement, but since 9/11 in New York, we look at packages on the ground and check the fight path of overhead airplanes and sometimes, think about what would happen if a human bomb should go off in the subway.

Fear has changed the public's relationship with society. We no longer take comfort in knowing that US culture is essentially safe. Children aren't allowed to do things we did when growing up.

It seems to me there is need for some sort of adjustment. We can't return to the way things were because we were blind to the dangers. But we also can't allow fear to drive our lives. That is why stories like this don't help much. Of course, there is no way we could stop terrorists from using robot airplanes to deliver explosives. There is no way we can stop them from delivering a shipping container full of nuclear waste and blowing it up in the middle of Manhattan.

But a public relations campaign will not make people feel safer or help them adjust to the realistic probabilities of terroristic action. We can't shout from the rooftops, "Feel better." People will feel worse.

So how does one attack deep and largely hidden fear? I don't know. My answer at the moment is that one can't except through pointing out the amount of time that has passed since the last attack. But, even doing that is likely to make people fearful that it is time for another.

It is a public relations challenge for which there is no answer.


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