I was going to write this up with links to facts and tons of data, but that is not what you need here. So, from some random asshole on the internet, stop for a second and hear me out. But first, a sound track No real reason for the 2nd, just what I am listening to now.
Ok this is me having an anxiety riddled moment.
The reality of us as men living in the West is as follows. The number one cause of non-natural death for men under 40 is suicide. Number two? Car accidents. Then all work related injuries, then the category i loving call "hold my beer and watch this." Then and only then does homicide make the list. The only single health category that fits in the top 5 is cancer. Here is the 2013 list of all men in the USA, so everyone from newborns to the guys who died at 105. Crime in the US/Canada is at all time lows, something we here on Hubski have talked about in previous threads related to Stephen Pinker, for example. The reality of violent crime is that as long as you are not involved in the illegal drug trade, even if you are poor, the odds of you being injured in a crime are damn near zero. Look at that chart again. Crime is not even in the list. Homicide is on the list of black men and we should all be ashamed at that, but let's focus on the positives here.
You are more likely to be killed by a cop during a traffic stop than by a terrorist. There were 13,000 or so homicides in 2014; that same year there were closer to 45,000 automobile fatalities. This number includes about 5,000 on motorcycles. Why don't we freak out over the body count from cars? Because they are familiar. I am willing to bet that everyone here knows someone who has been impacted by an automobile fatality... How many of us know someone who died in a plane crash? Or a terror attack? Or any of the other big scary things we see on TV? Probably not many. That leads to a part of the problem.
Is the world getting smaller?
Yes. When someone gets shot in the "bad part of town" it is all over the news. we can pull up google maps and street view the crime scene. We can measure how many blocks away the crime was. Even though the way cities work you are probably not going to interact with anyone involved with the event. You did not know this place existed until the news of the crime was all over the place. Now, think Pakistan. There was a terror bombing there in April that made national news. The local websites and news stations covered it with gruesome images of scared kids, bleeding women and dead bodies. Why? Because fear and panic sell advertising space, that is why. A plane crash in Russia that kills 30 people makes international news because plane crashes are very, very rare. After 9/11 people bailed on the airlines and drove instead. The high numbers of people on the roads versus the air lead to a statistical bump in fatalities from car accidents that rivaled the number of people killed in the attack.
Are our lives getting smaller and more constrained? Are possible futures being killed in the crib as we slowly lose little bits and pieces of peace of mind and personal freedom?
Sadly, yes. Human beings are NOT RATIONAL CREATURES. Say that a fucking million times until it sinks in. We are emotional basket cases, and advertisers and marketing people spend billions on how to get that little reptile control portion of your brain to react before the monkey brain can kick in and say "stop, idiot!" Since fear and death and terror and horror and crime and murder and all the bad scary nonsense gets eyeballs, and eyeballs sell ad copy, well here we are. The two big cities here in Kentucky just finished up a massive planning outlay for the next 20 years. This plan impacts the lives of every single person living in the two of the 50 biggest population centers in the USA, more than 1/2 the state. And it impacts the way visitors travel through these two metro areas. These plans are nowhere on the main news websites. NOWHERE. But the attack in Pakistan is. The stupid shit Clinton and Trump are saying sure is. These plans marry us to the automobile for a generation, impact the density of the urban infill and impact the very air we breathe and water we drink. Why nowhere on the news? Because it is boring and you can't sell advertising around it. Land abatement, environmental impact trust transfers, zone density targets, and waste water control easements don't trigger the reptilian emotional response. Hell, the 4-5 people reading this probably instinctively tuned out reading that sentence; I'd doubt there are more than 5 people here on Hubski who even know what those things are (and I was one of them until I started getting active with the parks system and light pollution activism). I know those terms exist but I doubt I could explain them, so how is the bobble-head on the 5 O'clock news supposed to do that in 15 second blurbs around the crime footage? Yet, these plan gut public transport and change the way most of us out here will get to work, where we will work, and how much in taxes we pay to make it happen.
I don't think I know a single person my age who associates any good feeling with airports.
That age is over. The joy I had meeting my dad at the gate after he came home from his dad's funeral, and the way his whole body shifted from a dour stoop to a standing tall smile when he saw his family greeting him and cheering lights up my memories damn near 40 years later, then I am saddened as this emotion is something that people today are not going to experience, ever again in an airport. The meeting at the baggage claim is one of business, not emotion: get the bags, jostle for room, get out. We've let fear trump sanity, and the needed changes to keep the bad guys off the planes have turned into a gong show instead. And as has been said elsewhere, if the bad guys really wanted to hurt us they'd never touch an airport ever again and instead buy a trucking company.
We are not meant to resolve all contradictions but to live with them and rise above them and see them in the light of exterior and objective values which make them trivial by comparison.
That was said by Thomas Merton a monk who went to isolate himself from humanity only to realize that we need to work to make the place suck a little less for those who follow. I really wish I knew of the guy when I was still a Catholic... I'm not sure what the change would be, but I learned of him after moving out to Kentucky. The one good thing about religion is that there are a ton of people who wandered out into the nothingness and came back with insights into the human condition. When I stopped being the atheist asshole online and went back to read some of the non-canonical gospels I also started to read on the philosophers and monks for insights into why people do stupid shit. It did not help with the understanding, but I did get insights into Stoicism and in dealing with a world that I don't always feel a part of. Social media is not making us better as I had hoped when I first got on the internet over 30 years ago. It is also not making us worse... yet. The internet and social media is amplifying our common traits which is why the festering sewer that is Reddit will come through once in a while and raise money for a good cause or help someone out who has been wronged in some big way. It also feeds gofundme's of liars and opportunists and cultists, but that stuff existed before the internet only not as loud and profitable.
So what do we do? Ban carry on gear and force people to fly naked? Declare martial law, put cameras everywhere and end liberty? Or do we realize that there are real things that we can fight that will make things better, vote for people who won't make the situation worse, stand with our friends when they fall, fight the battles to make our homes better than when we found them? One of the reasons that I think the suicide rate is so high is the push-pull from living in a safe environment while being force-fed a steady pop culture diet of "OMG WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!!111!!" I've fought this part of my personal battle by disengaging from the media and the news. I read news instead of watch it as that helps me digest data slower and makes me think about it more. I love the work that the Green Brothers have done, but fuck me I cannot watch JUMPCUT their JUMPCUT videos JUMPCUT as I don't have a damaged attention span. Realize that people have been having this conversation for about, oh, forever, and we are not going to fix it now. But, we can make it suck less for ourselves and those around us, control our reactions to the world and do better than our parents.
There are still people alive who were born in the 1800's. Think about that world they came into. They lived to see Electricity and clean water become a thing. They lived to see the creation of the suburbs, the introduction of the automobile, two World Wars, the end of the Ottoman Empire, the end of the British Empire, 1/3 of all US history, the rise of the educated American Middle Class, the end of Jim Crow, gay people and inter-racial couples not being killed for whom they love. They lived to see controlled powered flight, then jets, then space, all before they hit 70! They lived to see Measles, Polio, Whooping Cough, and Small Pox, wiped out of most of the human population. The diseases that filled the old cemeteries with the corpses of kids and infants, GONE. So gone in fact the anti-vax movement can take hold because the institutional memories of burring infants and toddlers does not exist here in the west. Radio, Television, movies, the Internet all came to be in their lifetime! Think about the wonders we will see in the next 50ish years. And stop watching video news, it exists to make you feel like shit so you by the Testosterone 5000 car and the body soap sold by the guy with muscles on his muscles. We are all on an involuntary rapidly accelerating train ride that ends six feet in the dirt feeding worms. And every one of us is fighting the same battle you are. Welcome to the suck, man; embrace it and enjoy the adventure wherever it takes you.