Terrorism is certainly something worth worrying about. An ABC News poll found that most Americans do worry about terrorism, and a third worry they personally will be a victim of a terrorist attack. But do we worry too much?
Last month, a publicity stunt for a Cartoon Network television program, which used illuminated light screens that look like a child's Lite Brite toy, practically shut down the city of Boston.
"Commerce was disrupted, transportation routes were paralyzed, residents were stranded and relatives across the nation were in fear for their loved ones here in the city of Boston," said Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley.
Boston authorities went on full alert, fearing the light screens were bombs. Police and bomb squads rushed to collect the light screens and even blew one up with a water cannon. "It is unconscionable that in this environment, post 9/11, that a corporation … would do something like this in an urban city," said Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis.
But wait a second. The light screens caused no fear or problems in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and six other cities where they were placed, and the devices stayed there for weeks. They were harmless! But it goes to show you how tense people are about terrorism.
The Rivardo family used to live near New York City, where Wayne Rivardo ran a successful car dealership. But after 9/11, he was just too frightened to live near a city.
"Something as simple as going to work could be the last moment you spend on the planet. … It just, it doesn't resonate well with me," he said.
So, he sold his business and moved to a part of Florida where he believes his family is safer. And to stay safe, Rivardo insists the family not travel by plane. They take trains or drive when they visit the rest of their family back in New York. "There's been a lot of reports of, I guess, when a plane goes down, that the carnage … that word just does something for me," he said.
"He's definitely the bigger worrier," said Rivardo's wife, Donna.
While she says she understands his concerns, she misses her family back in New York. "It bothers me because I really want to get on a plane and just go," she said.
According to Rivardo, "It's just is tough for me to get [on] a plane. … I stay up at night thinking about if I could do it. I'm trying to keep my wife happy and move in the right direction, but I just think it would be very, very difficult for me to do it at this point," he said.
There are good reasons to worry about terrorism. Our leaders keep telling us to be vigilant, because we're vulnerable.
"Our country is still the target of terrorists who want to kill many," said President Bush during his State of the Union Address in 2005. "They're out to hurt us. They're out to hurt us badly."
Thomas Keane, chairman of the 9/11 Commission, said recently, "They want to kill as many of us as they can possibly kill. They're clever. They plan over long periods of time, and it is a generational threat. It's something, unfortunately, our children, maybe even our grandchildren, may be dealing with."