Saturday, March 29, 2008

Is Terrorism diverting us from addressing other threats to our society?

Terrorism is and will be for many years to come, a valid concern for our law makers. But I have heard a story this evening of someone who endured (and thankfully survived) a terrible and terrifying attack, someone who had foolishly got involved with a drug dealer.

This has really made me question whether we have got things arse-backwards when it comes to identifying the real threats to our society. The impact of terrorism is enormous. As a commuter I know only too well the shock waves that reverberated from 7/7, intensified by 21/7. No one travelling on public transport in London around that time can have failed to consider whether the same thing may happen again. The fear that terrorism breeds is precisely because it is so random. Despite the minuscule chances of any of us being caught up in a terrorist attack, the perception is that we are all at risk.

But that very fear of an unknown risk clouds our collective judgement when it comes to the known risks in all our communities. Probably because such risks largely impact upon a small sector of our community, we tend to ignore them. Yet, as we are seeing on a weekly basis, the scourge of the drugs trade and its link with the gang, gun and knife culture, is destroying lives every day of the week. Deaths from drug abuse, unless the victim is very young or very famous, go by largely unreported. Deaths of predominantly young black men from guns and knives attract attention and the resulting moral panic, yet very little changes. Is this because it rarely if ever really touches us?

We are blessed (or cursed) with a government that elevates perception above reality. It is demonstrated in so many of their policies and blind faith in focus groups. Maybe the electorate are more concerned about terrorism than drugs, but the threat from the drugs industry/culture surely is far more of a threat? Whether that is in the destroyed lives, or the clear link between drugs and crime, stealing to score, dealing, violence.......the sum total of the problem costs us all dear. Yet where is the investment? In rehab, for those in and outside of the criminal justice system? In prevention, providing real and sustained diversionary activities for young people? In pursuance and prosecution of those who are destroying so many of our children's futures?

Would that we had even a fraction of the sums set aside for fighting illegal wars, renewing useless and dangerous nuclear weapons, propping up irresponsible really say enough is enough and begin to tackle this problem. But, alas, whilst the "perception" is that this is somebody else's problem, more of our children will become hopelessly enslaved, or worse, have their lives destroyed or lost completely.

1 comment:

Alasdair W said...

Very true. We are being taken away from the real issues and threats in our society. However one blessing is we don't have it as bad as America in some ways. The government is going to spend $600bn on military this year. But yet the people lack free Health Service, good state Education. Gun crime is hight, 1 in 3 households have guns (but it is against their constition to stop this). However we really need to be investing things into the real problems. We've seen the headlines of what TIME magazine think of our youth. There are real problems that serously need adressed. Drugs as you spoke about are killing many more people than terrorism