How can one measure the true cost of violence? Is it summed up in economic disadvantages, lives lost, or fear set within the community afterwards? No one is immune to life’s challenges. One cannot expect ignorance to be bliss in every instance. Hell, today’s generation is trained to be disgusted by the idea of sitting by and letting what happens happen. Yet, modern-day society seems to allow the fear of possibility outweigh the advantages of living freely.
On Thursday, February 16, 2017 a portion of class was set aside for a “Run-Hide-Fight” discussion based drill to test the Rollins College R-ALERT Emergency Notification System. An email sent to the student body prior to Thursday gave detailed actions for how to handle specific situations, emphasizing the importance of everyone’s participation to survive the ultimate nightmare. Twenty minutes of my $1,780 class were dedicated to making me feel unsafe. I did not feel unsafe in the way that I awaited physical harm; I felt unsafe that such a recital should be deemed necessary in an American college in 2017 at all.
An informed society is a stronger society. Informed citizens are essential for the success of a democratic nation. By keeping average citizens well-versed on their rights and responsibilities, the people will protect themselves and each other by acting according to the situation.
As I already mentioned, the drill was well-intended—we cannot ignore the fact that these situations are plausible threats. But to what extent does attempting to prevent these violent situations from happening become overwhelming, and nearly hinder the freedom our Constitution ensures us to the pursuit of happiness?
We should not change our lifestyle in fear of what the future may hold. Living in fear is equivalent to awaiting death.
Terrorist attacks, school shootings, and other horrific crimes that appear to be norms here at home and across the world all have the immediate effect of ending lives, but the long-term goal of instilling crippling fear in societies afterwards.
Terrorists want to not only ruin lives but also force people to change the way they live, hoping they will always keep the person or group responsible in the back of their mind. This is true loss of freedom—the loss of peace of mind, control over one’s own consciousness.
People continue to say our country has never been so divided. How are we expected to come together and overcome these obstacles politically and socially when we cannot trust our neighbors?
We point fingers at religious beliefs, poor educational systems, and the media to explain the violence we are experiencing—and expecting—around the world. We walk through the streets scared to make conversation, to say something wrong, silenced by the fear of possibile misteps and projected enemies.
Do not take my class time to instill fear of the future. I embrace the future, and I embrace the potential it holds, both negative and positive. I would be a fool to ignore the negative things going on around me, and a liar if I said I did not fear for the future of our nation at times. But fear is beside the point.
I refuse to change my lifestyle because of the horrible people that live in this world. I will live my life to my standards, not to the standards of possible threats. I subscribe to the words of Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh: “If we are not fully ourselves, truly in the present moment, we miss everything.”