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Gavin De Becker
Book Review

Gavin De Becker has written two books we highly recommend. His first, Gift of Fear, provides a commonsense blend of explanation, empathy, and reassurance regarding the individual criminal (read terrorist) threat. His second book, Fear Less, provides an abundance of practical reassuring advice in this age of terror. We paraphrase pieces of his second book here:

    The most effective element of security on airplanes is low-techregular citizens, p19

    We have absorbed and accepted many dangers already, being shot or killed in traffic for example, after we do our best to avoid them. We can do it again with terrorism, p24.

    Does it make sense to worry about things beyond our control, when it is the things we can control that are most likely to kill us? p47.

    We are safer now than we were before 9/11. p51

    Respect our intuition, it is telling us something, p5 & p53. This one is not an absolute of course, but it works a better than nothing, a lot better.

    In responding to our intuition, we should look for risks, not their absence. We need to know what has real terror potential, not what doesn't. No one can guarantee our safety, but only we can look for the risks we take, p67.

    Check the accuracy of information, it may be extraneous, out of context, and harmfulpropaganda in effect, p109.

    When we do encounter unsafe acts or unsafe conditions, we can take take appropriate action, ch 7.

    Be proactive in follow-up, p137-138.

    Sort out the facts from the what-could-happens. Some politicians are particularly adept at using a "what-could-happen" to imply it surely will unles s/he is elected/re-elected. In fact s/he has no clue in fact, only an agenda, p144.

    Focus on how to live, not on how to die, p154.

    Remaining alert requires getting rest, p176.

    If death is what we fear, then our perspective should be: drive carefully, eat a low-fat diet [predominantly vegetables, grains, nuts, and fruits; diabetics need to eat low carbohydrate diets, high in protein. Everyone needs fiber (~20-25 grams daily for regularity and to reduce the incidence of colon cancer. Get regular health check-ups.] Not smoking, not drinking to excess, managing our weight, and exercising regularly are life-preservers, p 196.

It also helps to form strong relationships with others and to practice dialogue with all.

De Becker is right on for the individual. These are things we can do now, to enhance both our safety and enjoyment of life. De Becker challenges us to think and act in new ways. With insight we can control our future. Without it, we stay on the treadmill--over-reacting in wrong ways to the wrong things.

Terror is all about psychology. Doesn't it make sense to hone our psychological tools in defending ourselves and also for going after the terrorists? Nationally, the Deobandi mullahs in Pakistan radicalize their youth while we pile layer upon layer of bureaucracy on Homeland Security. Where is the connection?

For a view of on the psychological dimensions of violence and torture in our homeland, and the role of hatred, visit: Poussaint


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