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The Best Thing I Can Do After a Terrorist Attack

When a horrific terrorist attack happens, the first question that comes to my mind is, How afraid should I be? I live in Washington, D.C., so it’s fair to assume that my family and I are, at any given time, at risk of being killed or injured in a terrorist attack.

Like most people, I feel tempted to give into paranoia, but then I remind myself of this pragmatic quote by C.S. Lewis on what he thought we should all do in the case of atomic war. It’s applicable here as well.

The first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb, when it comes, find us doing sensible and human things — praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts — not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs.

Some would say, “As a D.C. resident, you’re going to be sorry one day when a terrorist attack hits the capital again. You’ll wish you had been more vigilant.” And to that, I would say this: Don’t worry. I’m going to use common sense and have situational awareness as I go about my day, but life is too short and eternity is too promising to surrender my peace to a bunch of terrorists.

May the peace of Christ be with the grieving victims of terrorism, and may we honor those individuals by pulling ourselves together and living life to the fullest until our time on earth is through.

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