Guest Post: Can We Please Dial Down The Hysteria?
Here is a guest post by Dinah Paritzky (my sister), which I thought fitting in light of today's events in Ramat Beit Shemesh, and the aftermath that I see in the community
The panic levels of the general population are (rationally) out of all proportion to the threat – and the media is not helping any. Imagine if every single time someone got injured or killed in a car crash, the headlines would pop up on our screens, along with interviews with eye witnesses. It would happen dozens of times every single day – and would probably terrify us all. Nobody would want to get in a car – or leave their house!
I wonder what would happen if the terrorist attacks were only reported on the regular evening headlines? And not as newsflashes? It's obviously not a realistic wish – but let's just imagine for a moment. Of course the news channels would not get their nice juicy stories – but maybe we would all be that much calmer?
Am I scared when I leave my house in Bet Shemesh and go to work in Jerusalem that I will be stabbed by a terrorist? Well, yes. I am also scared that someone will crash head-on into my car at full speed (as once happened!), that I will get run over, that there will be an earthquake, or I could be bitten by a poisonous snake, or I could fall over and break my back or skull. I could also have a heart attack or a brain aneurysm. Or get struck by lightning. Or catch Asian flu. Or get murdered by a random lunatic as opposed to an actual terrorist.
We all know that some of those things are statistically more likely to happen than a terrorist attack. And yet perfectly rational people lose all sense of perspective. If a terrorist attack happens in Bet Shemesh (a town of 80,000 people or so), you do not need to call me to see if I am okay. I assume that if I were to be murdered then you would be upset. But you do not need to demonstrate your affection for me by calling to see if I am alive and well. You could wait to hear on the news what actually happened. If an attack happens on my street (chas ve...), then sure – go ahead and call. But if it happens in my town? Or my country? You really don’t need to bother. It just adds to the general levels of hysteria.
Last week my son's school had a 2 day trip to the yishuvim in the south including Sderot, to see how they live. Despite the school getting all possible ishurim, a few parents sent out mails saying how scared they were, and asked if we were sending our sons. I replied that I work in downtown Jerusalem, my daughter is on a kibbutz on the border of Gaza and my son is in the army, and that Sderot seems like a safer option than any of those. The reply? "I want to keep my son 100% safe, not 90% safe." Well, sorry, but I have news for you - you can't. You could try chaining him to his bed wrapped in cotton wool and never letting him go near a road – but you won't do that.
I do realize this is a sliding scale: anyone more scared than me is hysterical and anyone less scared is an idiot :-). However, can we at least try to be slightly rational?
To be sure, we can take some basic precautions - after all, I don’t cross the road with my eyes closed. But can we a) carry on with our lives and b) not frantically phone/ sms/ whatsapp/ facebook the minute there is a pigua?