Adding Some Perspective

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Perspective. It's a word often used to indicate size and scale; e.g.: "He's a big boy! In fact, he's over 10 inches taller than his classmates." And, now, perspective is a word we are hearing over and over with regard to the anthrax terrorism. We are being told to put the situation in perspective. Is worry legitimate? Should we be hysterical?

At this time, you have a better shot at being the uncontested winner of a $50 million state lottery than contracting anthrax. So, what is the appropriate reaction? How do we make sense of it all? I find these questions disturbing and puzzling. I wish the problem would go away. I wish it never happened. But I know my wishes will never be fulfilled.

We lost our innocence on Sept. 11, and nothing will ever be the same. The world is a different place. And with the threats of biological and chemical warfare and weapons of mass destruction hanging over our heads and the omnipresent media plying our fears, how does one find perspective? Well, some of you will hide your heads in the sand, and some will take solace in prayer and find answers in spiritual ways, while others will stop watching the news (sometimes a great idea), and still others will attempt to intellectualize what has happened and what is going on today.

In my opinion, we need to know the facts and we must react in proportion to the circumstances as facts dictate. But what does that really mean? When we put the situation in perspective - four known letters contaminated, 23 cases of anthrax, five deaths - in a daily flow of 680 million pieces (more than 40 billion delivered since Sept. 11 ... and by the way, let me point out that not one of the contaminated letters was commercial mail), one has to recognize that the risk to the ordinary American is miniscule.

Should we be concerned? The unequivocal answer is "YES!" - we had better remain concerned. America has had a wake-up call and we don't need another. We need to be prepared. We need more security with regard to whom we let into our homeland. We need to balance our freedoms while empowering our police. We live in the greatest country in the world, in fact, the greatest country in the history of the world.

We are the envy of all. Sure, we're not perfect, not even close, but we accept that as part of the human condition. It is our burden to protect our way of life for future generations just as it was our parents and grandparents and ancestors before them. We must be vigilant, but we mustn't give way to fear and allow terror to dictate our children's future.

The burden is ours, and it is not going away. Americans need to know that they should be vigilant, but they also need to know that the terrorist attack of our psyche by weaponizing the mail is not going to deter us.

David O. Schwartz

President, 21stAZ Marketing, Farmingdale, NY


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