For those of you who don’t know, this week I moved to Paris, France. While this is an overwhelmingly exciting time in my life, this decision has opened my eyes dramatically to the huge elephant in the room: fear. Not necessarily from myself, but from everyone around me. When I told friends, family, and even strangers that I was moving to a city which the world has deemed “extremely dangerous” I received the consistent reaction: “But aren’t you scared?”. I saw the panicked look on the faces of those I love, hearing the same nervous words over and over “Please be safe”.
I grew up in a 9/11 world. I was only seven years old when I was first introduced to the horror of terrorism. Seven. Like all Americans I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news. I watched the towers fall down on my TV while my mom explained in the best way she could how the bad men were attacking our country. My whole life I have turned on the news or read articles where yet another attack has taken place and sadly it has become the “new normal” for our world. For me it’s always been this way and in a way I was numb to it.
It wasn’t until the November 2015 attacks in Paris that it really, truly sunk in. I had just spent the last few months in and out of Europe. London, Paris, Barcelona… all these places weren’t far away lands anymore. They were real. I had been there, walked the streets, met the people, and fell in love with these cities. I now had loved ones there. I felt connected. When I heard the news about the attacks and read story after story from the people who had survived, I completely broke down. Suddenly everything became real. The headlines became deep sadness, the numbers became actual people, and I lost it because I realized how easily it could’ve been me and how heartbreaking it was that it was them. I cried for two days straight because I was so horrified and for the first time in my life I was forced to wrap my head around just how inhumane, disgusting and traumatic these events were. It changed my views on everything. I allowed fear to take over me. Something as simple as going to a concert with friends, a first date at a café, or traveling to a new foreign city had lost its excitement. Instead it was filled with fear and worry. It shouldn’t be that way. It’s no way to live. It’s not fair.
There is a significant difference between being cautious and being completely brainwashed by fear. You should be smart, cautious, and aware of your surroundings always. However, there is only so much you can prevent. These terrorist attacks are horrifying and traumatic but that’s not going to stop me from traveling to these places and it shouldn’t stop you. In high school I had one of my best friends die in a car accident, yet I didn’t stop driving. Sandy Hook won’t stop me from enrolling my future children in school. I refuse to let fear and terror stop me from living my life. Isn’t that exactly what they want? To ruin your life with FEAR. We can’t let them. Don’t you dare do it.
We hear about these attacks constantly, and it seems like they’re happening every single day. Why would we travel right now when it puts us at risk of dying?! I get it. It’s terrifying. You wouldn’t be human if these attacks didn’t frighten you.
Now, I don’t want to ruin your day, but did you know you’re more likely to kick the bucket staying in your hometown than going out and seeing the world? That’s right. The actual odds of being involved in a terrorist attack are drastically lower than you might think. Don’t believe me? I did some research. Hopefully this doesn’t depress you or come off morbid, but instead helps you put things into perspective.
I call this “What Are The Odds”. Let’s Begin:
Dying from a Heart Disease: 1 in 5
Dying from a Cancer: 1 in 7
Dying from a Stroke: 1 in 23
Dying from any kind of Injury: 1 in 1,820
Dying from Electrocution: 1 in 5,000
Dying in a Road Accident: 1 in 8,000
Dying from Intentional Self-harm: 1 in 9,380
Dying from an Assault: 1 in 16,421
Being Murdered: 1 in 18,000
Dying from a Car Accident: 1 in 18,585
Dying from any kind of Fall: 1 in 20,666
Dying from Accident at Work: 1 in 43,500
Dying from Accidental Drowning: 1 in 79,065
Dying from Exposure to Smoke, Fire, and Flames: 1 in 81,524
Dying from Bee, Snake Venomous Sting: 1 in 100,000
Dying from Forces of Nature (earthquake, heat, cold, lightning, flood): 1 in 225,107
Dying from Choking on Food: 1 in 370,035
Being Struck by Lightning: 1 in 576,000
Drowning in a Bathtub: 1 in 685,000
Dying from a Dog Bite: 1 in 700,000
Fatally Slipping during a Shower: 1 in 812,232
Dying form Unintentional Alcohol Poisoning: 1 in 820,217
Dying in a Fireworks Accident: 1 in 1,000,000
Dying from Falling off a Ladder: 1 in 2,300,000
Dying from Food Poisoning: 1 in 3,000,000
Dying of a Snake Bite: 1 in 3,500,000
The odds of dying in a terrorist attack while on-board an aircraft is 1 in 25,000,000 (25 million) and the overall average of dying in any kind of terrorist attack worldwide is 1 in 9,300,000 (9.3 million).
So, in summary: the odds are in your favor. Why let fear dictate your opportunity of seeing the most beautiful places on this planet? You shouldn’t. I beg you from the bottom of my heart not to. Brave the unknown. Yes, it can be scary but it is so unbelievably worth it. Don’t let them win.
Nelson Mandela said it best: “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears”
(Statistics Source: Zeeshan-ul-hassan Usmani, Ph. D. Consultant Data Sciences, Al and Global Innovation)