The word “Terror” comes from the latin word “Terreo” and it means “to be shaken by fear”.
Psychologically, terror is the state of uncontrollable fear deriving from an unknown source of danger, or from an invisible danger, if you will.
Some people cope really well with it, others are paralyzed by it; nevertheless, every single time our society is stabbed with terrorist acts, our fears come to surface once more.
Our TVs are filled with tears and blood, to the point it overflows into our living rooms; our Facebook feed becomes the showcase of vengeance, racism, dread.
Our steps in the metro become more careful and every black bag becomes a question mark; we try to imagine which target will be next one to come down in flames: will it be Rome? Maybe London. Maybe Berlin.
One thing is for sure: we are at war.
We have reached the very deep end and every single city could be home to the next black headline. All it takes is one person who has fallen off the tracks, one foreigner with an empty soul.
We are at war.
But every war has its own little secret; our war’s secret is the fact that it doesn’t exist.
As a matter of fact, we are actually living in the most peaceful age we have ever lived throughout all of history, and through all societies. We are the most secure and safe our species has ever been.
The most reliable way in which we measure our “level of peace” is the number of deaths procured by other humans, and that number has been going down steadily, no matter what the headlines say.
Dr. Pinker, Pulitzer prize winner and Harvard psychologist, has been extensively studying the matter and he eloquently explains that: “it might sound hard to believe and it is counterintuitive, because tragedies make the news, but we are in the most peaceful age we know.”
If we were to couple this information with the record life expectancy we have both at global and local level, our only wonder would be where to make room for all the beautiful people that will be populating our world for many years to come; this is especially true since infancy death has fallen by more than 80% over the last century.
We are becoming more and more, we are living longer and we are less subject to violence than ever.
We are also getting richer; on an individual level this might be the hardest information to accept, but, on a global level, we are growing healthier and more prosperous and we have been growing more than ever over the last 200 years, thanks to the industrial revolution and the medical and technological advancements made since.
More than ever, we have a deep understating of our surroundings and of the underlying structure of nature; more than ever, we have the tools and knowledge necessary to eradicate and manage diseases; for example, we were able to eradicate Polio and Smallpox, while we have managed to reduce the number of cancer deaths by 20%.
Religious conflicts have always hindered human growth, and most likely will continue to do so as long as radical religious beliefs exist. In our particular days they incarnate the big, bad monsters that hide under our beds, gathering strength from our deepest fears.
And since it is fear that we are mostly drawn to, our headlines keep being as dark as they can, shining bright spotlights in humanity’s dirtiest alleys.
During the spring of 1997 I was in Albania, while the civil war was raging on: rifles, tanks and deaths were as common as smartphones are nowadays, to the point I truly believed every country in the world was living in the same exact state. How could they not? That was all I was seeing.
During the Paris attacks of 2015 I was inside the UniCredit tower in Milan and every person around me truly believed that every single one of us could be the next target, that the Tower itself might be the next big news. How could they not? That was all they were seeing.
Our perception is limited and that’s when terror comes in to play; we are afraid of what we don’t see because we focus on the monster in front of us and assume that there are monsters all around.
What we don’t see is actually the best time to be alive, the peak of our species.
If you were to find a time-machine lying around your house, don’t touch that; any other era would be hell, compared to what we are experiencing.
Whatever you see, whatever you hear, don’t let yourself be taken down into a sea of fear and hatred.
The worst that you can imagine is going on somewhere, and will still be going on tomorrow; and still, right now is the best time to be alive.