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Mike's Minute: Terror only gets a foothold when fed by fear

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Monday, 18 March 2019, 9:13a.m.


A person living in Christchurch got asked over the weekend, did they still want to live there? They, of course, said yes.

As they would, as they should. Because the mistake in the question is the overemphasis that this is somehow about Christchurch.

Yes, Christchurch is grieving, in shock, and anger as anyone would be. But that's the key, "as anyone would be." This was not a "Christchurch thing." The geography is Christchurch, but it didn't happen because it's Christchurch. It was not Christchurch's fault, the same way it would not have been any city or town's fault.

The event and the location are almost separate ideas. They did nothing to ask for it, warrant it, expect it. This is not a gang war bubbling for some time, it is not a war zone.

And that is the uniqueness of terror, the targets and modus operandi are not generally geographic.

In this case it was religious. Religion is everywhere, the same way hate is everywhere.

The question, of course, was put because Christchurch is tragically having its two main tragedies heaped together. And I suppose in an emotional sense there is some reasonable amount of logic in that.

But the basis of the question perhaps was born out of the earthquakes and the movement of people from the city. And in many cases they came back and very positively to it from afar as the rebuild got underway.

But that was the result of tangibility. A quake destroys homes, infrastructure is affected, jobs are lost. The city is physically changed, and with that change comes decisions around futures and locations.

A random act of terror can happen literally anywhere, at any place, at any time. A city is not diminished by it, the same way Orlando isn't after the nightclub, or Norway is after the island.

The event is part of a city, it may shape or change it in some way, but at what point would it shape you to the extent that you would move?

Move to where? Somewhere safer? Is the reality not that, sadly, no where is truly safe? If the line between safety and terror is a handful of guns, a nutter, and some murderous intent, what place, town, city, or village is terror proof? Immune from the insanity of a lone wolf?

But if the question was flawed, perhaps the answer is full of hope.

This is new for us in such a specific and direct way, but globally this isn't new.

And surely if we learn little else about the calamity, uncertainty, and madness of what this world faces by way of the terror, then it is not to move, or give in, or acquiesce, but to have resolve, bravery, and belief that terror only gets a foothold when fed by fear.

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