When the attack on Sandy Hook took place and the news media announced that the killer had attacked a classroom full of second graders, my heart sank. All I could do was imagine my second-grade daughter cowering under a desk in the face of a madman. She was that age at the time.
Fast-forward a few years and I feel the same. My daughters, 12 and 17, are both Arianna Grande fans. Neither have ever been to a concert in an arena but I consider taking them often to hear their favorite artists perform. Instead, the ISIS member attacks an arena of innocent civilians in Manchester killing 22 and injuring over 100.
Sadly, the first victim is the age of my oldest daughter and the second was just a little less than my youngest. Just like Sandy Hook, I am saddened.
I grieve for those children and adults who were mercilessly slaughtered over ideology, hate, and the desire to cause massive mayhem for a “greater good.” In the current state of affairs where good and evil meet randomly in random places, I worry. My daughters are kind at heart; so were the victims at Manchester. The victims and survivors were doing as we have all been told, “Don’t let the terrorist win. Continue to live a normal life.” As a father, the concept of normalcy is shifting and I am vigilant about the safety of my daughter.
I am also conflicted. As a professor, I know that the odds of my daughters finding harm at the hands of an ISIS attack is near 0, but it is possible. Clearly, there are higher odds of drowning in a pool, perishing in a car accident, and having a life-threatening disease. Yet, I pay attention. I watch. I try to provide a life where daughters can grow up with a sense of safety and security.
The war against terrorism is bigger than me. However, its nastiness scares my children and serves as a basis for my own anguish. I feel the pain for those people who perished and survived in Manchester. Survivors are likely to feel guilt for “why did I live and they passed away?” Some will have to live the rest of their lives with PTSD. The community itself will never be the same. Rhetoric may say, “Go on about your business.” However, that is shallow when one has children or realizes the random nature of those seeking to harm many in a suicide-bombing attack. Me, for one, I know that vigilance and knowing “thy neighbor” is a collective effort and necessity of addressing terror.
Sadly, as the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, and CIA work in a surreptitious manner, the public is left without information. Knowing the distribution and mapping of investigation and arrest information of terror members would be useful for people who plan their behavior around the need for safety. After all, most terrorists are a part of a network and do not work alone.
Certainly, keeping such information is strategically necessary but as a father to two beautiful daughters the age of those horribly murdered in Manchester, I want information. I want to know. I want to protect my daughters so that the specter of terror does not drive them into a fear-laden rabbit hole. I want them to live in a world where they can wake up feeling secure. I want them to be able to go to a concert and know they will make it home safely. I want them to live in peace. Yes, the odds of victimization by terrorists are low, but I want the odds to be 0. Am I really asking too much?