It is horrendous to think that at an event that should have been a lovely family day out, terror struck Boston and resulted in the loss of life of three innocent attendees and injured over 100 others. The immediate response throughout was one of shock, eventually turning into the ultimate question of why?
Why terrorists do what they do and bring carnage to visit upon civil society is one that will never be fully understood by some of us who live in what we generally perceive to be peaceful communities. One thing is almost certain, this terrorist attack on Boston will evoke many of the same concerns that occupied citizens of the United States immediately after the 9/11 attacks. A cycle of fear and unease has once again been unleashed upon a public who have no quarrel with those that committed these ghastly acts.
Following the Boston explosions, how will America respond? I am asking that question from a standpoint of what will be the public's response going forward. Will marathons and other sporting events see a drop in attendance now that terrorists are cowardly targeting these gatherings?
People need to feel safe within the communities in which they reside. Additionally, citizens also demand safety at recreational events without having that additional worry of carnage reaching the venues that they choose to frequent. After 9/11 a similar question was asked in terms of how safe it would be to work in and occupy tall buildings. That concern more or less took care of itself as there have been no reported attacks on any skyscraper since that tragic event.
I somehow think though that this recent attack on Boston may be somewhat different in the public's response over the next few weeks and months. Unless the authorities in Boston can accurately present to the public those responsible for this gross atrocity and ascertain what was their reason behind carrying out this attack, the public will most likely respond with fear that the perpetrators are at large, and the risks are still insurmountable.
My additional concern too is that the public response may not stop there once the perpetrators are found. Without a doubt, there will be the defiant masses who will show two fingers to the terrorists and place their presence wherever they feel. However, I am inclined to think that the United States, within the last few months, has become besieged by a wave of openly brazen acts of crime upon innocent civilians.
The Aurora cinema shootings in Colorado, the Newtown Connecticut shootings of innocent children, the Virginia mall shooting, the fatal killings of public prosecutors in Texas, amongst other such similar stories are becoming all too familiar and somewhat of a norm. A perpetuation of fear is being bred into the public psyche which may see people boycotting public gatherings, putting safety above leisure and recreational outlets.
There is no exact science in predicting when carnage will strike. In fact, it can be almost impossible to protect the citizenry from further acts of terror in the form that we saw in Boston yesterday. The resources to patrol countless miles of marathon routes would costs cities millions. The only response would be one where safety at such events in the future becomes a public/private partnership in terms of who meets the final costs.
In the United States around US$2 billion a year goes into ensuring that sporting events maintain a high level of safety and security. That number may yet continue to see a significant rise in light of the trend currently being witnessed.
In actuality, events such as the Boston Marathon and other such outdoor events are potentially soft targets. Terrorists or disgruntled anti-government factions can strike without warning. Life however, must go on, and to ease the growing fears, the authorities must act and find the villains quickly in this latest infliction of chaos upon a peaceful event.
People are grieving now and are still registering shock but the questions will soon mount and law enforcement bodies may yet find themselves in a quagmire if they cannot give answers to the public to make them feel safe, in an age where fear threatens to take over the way we live our lives.
Jeevan Robinson is Founder & Editor-in-Chief of MNI Alive. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org