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Is terror our new normal?

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I was watching the news coverage about the shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas when I decided to write this piece. The most glaring aspect of this tragedy wasn’t the death toll, which reached 26 innocent lives. It wasn’t the location of the tragedy either, a church, a place where people go to worship and feel loved. No, not at all. What stood out to me was that it was the third act of violence that week. On Halloween, there was a terror attack in New York City, and eight people died. The day after Halloween, there was a shooting at a Walmart in Thornton, Colo. Three people lost their lives while getting groceries. Aside from that, you want to know what resonated deep within me? The fact that our world is becoming desensitized to these atrocious acts, and we don’t even realize it.

Though federal law views terrorism as any act that intimidates or coerces civilian populations, influences a government, or affects a government by mass destruction, I view terrorism as any act of violence that is intended to instill fear within the hearts of the innocent. If the aftermath of a violent event makes it hard for you to enjoy the things you loved, or makes you hypervigilant in a time where you should be relaxed, then, yeah, I think that’s terrorism. From here out, I will be using my own definition of terrorism.

There’s an element to this senseless madness that a lot of people don’t understand. You do not have to be of Middle Eastern descent or a Muslim to be a terrorist. Terrorism is not defined by the color of one’s skin or the religion that one practices. Terrorism, quite literally defined, is: the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. Yes, I know ISIS is a terrorist organization and their members meet the previously listed criteria. But guess what? Most of the time, the people who commit these violent acts do not meet the aforementioned criteria of a terrorist.

 

We cannot lose our hope. We cannot be fearful.”

 

My first memory of domestic terrorism happened when I was 11 years old. James Holmes committed a mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. Ever since that event, I have to check the exits whenever I go to a movie, even if I’m alone in the theater. If I see anything off about the door, I have to check it out for myself. Otherwise, my mind goes to the worst place imaginable. Movie theaters are supposed to be a place where you can go for entertainment, not where you have to worry about someone shooting you. Later that year, Adam Lanza slaughtered young students and faculty members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Now, whenever I start a new class at school, one of the first things I think of is, “Hmm, if there were to be a school shooting, where could I hide in this room?” That is not how it should be. Schools are a place of education. It shouldn’t be a place where I have to mentally map my escape route, in case of a shooting.

To those reading this, I want you to step back and imagine for a second. Have you ever been to Nebraskaland Days, surrounded by your buddies, having the time of your life? Have you ever sat within the seats in of a religious building and worshipped the higher being that you believe in? Have you stood within the aisles of Wal-Mart, questioning whether groceries or your sanity was more important? Gone to a movie theater to watch the hit blockbuster of the year? Now, imagine that you are back in that moment, celebrating at a concert or worshipping in your holy place. Imagine bullets flying. Somebody killing you for no other reason than striking fear within the hearts of those who remain living in the world around you.

These days, it seems to be almost impossible to escape the terrors of the world. The frequency of attacks are increasing, and the reaction is decreasing. It is hard to think of the glass as half full when everything around you is just so draining. However, we can’t let it drain us. That’s what the bad guys want. We cannot lose our hope. We cannot be fearful. We can choose to skip our concerts, you know, we can choose to stay home, and watch those box office hits once they’re available to rent. But don’t you get it? That’s what they want us to do. They want the fear they created to dictate our lives. I’ll admit, we can’t just stop terrorism. We can continue to live our lives to the fullest extent without fear of the bad guys, though. The world needs more humanity, and that change starts within each and every one of us.

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About the Writer
Ainsley Nichols, Managing Editor
I’ve been in newspaper for two years. I’m a Gemini, and I’m here for a good time. Twitter: @ainsnichols Instagram: @a.insley Snapchat: @ains570
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Is terror our new normal?