A nationwide Harris Poll of 1,016 US adults surveyed by telephone by Harris Interactive® between February 7 and 14, 2006 revealed that two-thirds (66%) of US adults think it is likely that there will be a major terrorist attack in this country in the next 12 months. This is a sharp increase from June 2005, when 55 percent of US adults thought this was likely.
Prior to 9/11, I think most Americans couldn’t conceive of a war being waged in our own backyard.
When I was younger and more carefree, I used to marvel at how Europeans in the Middle Ages had to face horrors such as the Black Plague and the realization that their already comparatively short lifespans might be blotted out in an instant.
I realize that in the past century there were other homegrown scares that haunted Americans—the pneumonia epidemic at the end of World War I; the scourge of childhood diseases like polio; and so on—and that of course in other areas of the world, untimely death was and is a daily fact of life.
But now Americans face the spectre of another possible (or probable) attack on US soil by terrorists. What is this knowledge doing to our collective unconscious?
In my case, like most other Americans, I have dreams and aspirations. I’m 48 now, and if I quit smoking and eat right, I might only be only a little more than halfway through my allotted lifespan.
After twenty years with my boyfriend and seven additional years after our breakup, we are at long last planning on selling our Manhattan coop and each getting a place of our own. Until recently, I’d been busy dreaming about how I would furnish my new place, scanning the New York Times real estate listings, and talking to realtors, realizing with delight that a spacious place in the Bronx — within walking distance of my current boyfriend — could be mine for the asking after the sale.
My passion for blogging has resulted in some problems in terms of living life to the full offline — at least during the past year — but I’d vowed to get back into the swing of things and start taking advantage once again of all that New York City has to offer. But I love blogging too much to dream of ever giving it up, so I planned to strike a healthy balance between the cyber world and the “real” one.
But now as the news of the world gets worse and worse every day, in the back of my mind I must face the fact that my life—or life as I know it—may be snuffed out at any moment, and that a majority of Americans are facing the same cruel possiblity. About the only comfort I have is knowing that not eating right, not exercising, and smoking may not make a damned bit of difference after all. I can only imagine what it must be like for those who have children and grandchildren when they contemplate what horrors may lie in store for us.
I’d be curious to know what others are thinking as we struggle through this dangerous and frightening time.