In the light of the recent terrorist attacks there has been an upsurge in anxiety and fear about what might happen next. No place seems to be safe if customers at restaurants, an audience at a concert, and county employees having a Christmas party can be targets of Islamic Caliphate sympathizers. While fear has increased in public consciousness the reality of danger may overstated. This is no doubt due to the wall to wall media coverage. We are more aware of national and world events than ever before. The impression given is that violence is epidemic.
The Florida Times-Union (Sunday, December 6, 2015) gives examples of far more prevalent deaths than terrorism: traffic accidents, struck by lightning, falling out of bed. The National Safety Council noted that about 6,000 Americans die each year texting while driving. The gun murder rate has been cut in half since 1993, according to a Pew Center analysis of data. Violent crime has decreased by 49 percent since 1991, according to FBI data.
Of course, data can also be used to justify increased vigilance and not to be complacent about suspicious and aberrant behavior. Jesus said, “You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times” (Matthew 16:3). “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34).