Beyond Fear, Grief and Rage: A Terrorism Response

How do we stop feeling helpless as the carnage grows?

Every gesture feels simultaneously important and utterly futile. I'm reading articles on "How to Talk to Your Child About Terrorism" overwhelmed with grief, sadness and anger.


Here is what I have come to as my response so that beyond the gestures of sympathy, my actions might make a difference.

1) I will commit with even greater focus to challenging religious extremism no matter what stripe; whether it rears its head on foreign soil, or in a clerk's office in Kentucky.

2) I will commit to challenging the rebuke of science and the embrace of ignorance and shallowness as a virtue in American politics.

3) I will help carve out more space for those who do not embrace religion -- whether humanist, atheist or agnostic -- to have a greater voice in the U.S. to further disrupt the idea that we are a religious country guided by a version of a religious book rather than the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law.

4) I will educate myself more deeply and will resist accepting simple-minded solutions to layered and ancient challenges. Or as H.L. Mencken warned: "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong."

5) I will do everything in my power to ensure the next president of the United States is a rational adult capable of treating the world like something more than a Call of Duty video game.

6) I will remember that cars, gun accidents, lightning strikes and stomach flu kill more than terrorists. That I am more likely to choke on my lunch than catch shrapnel from a suicide bomber.

7) I will remember not to be terrorized even as I am horrified. I will not be fearful. I will not toss aside the values that are fundamental to our democracy and exchange them for a vigilante mentality.