Excerpt from The Gift of Fear
If we studied any other creature in nature and found the record of intraspecies violence that human beings have, we would be repulsed by it. We'd view it as a great perversion of natural law—but we wouldn't deny it.
As we stand on the tracks, we can only avoid the oncoming train if we are willing to see it and willing to predict that it won't stop. But instead of improving the technologies of prediction, America improves the technologies of conflict: guns, prisons, SWAT teams, karate classes, pepper spray, stun guns, Tasers, Mace. And now more than ever, we need the most accurate predictions. Just think about how we live: We are searched for weapons before boarding a plane, visiting city hall, seeing a television show taping, or attending a speech by the president. Our government buildings are surrounded by barricades, and we wrestle through so-called tamper-proof packaging to get a couple aspirin. All of this was triggered by the deeds of fewer than ten dangerous men who got our attention by frightening us. What other quorum in American history, save those who wrote our constitution, could claim as much impact on our day-to-day lives? Since fear is so central to our experience, understanding when it is a gift—and when it is a curse—is well worth the effort.
We live in a country where one person with a gun and some nerve can derail our democratic right to choose the leaders of the most powerful nation in history. The guaranteed passport into the world of great goings-on is violence, and the lone assailant with a grandiose idea and a handgun has become an icon of our culture. Yet comparatively little has been done to learn about that person, particularly considering his (and sometimes her) impact on our lives.
Taking responsibility for our own safety.