Beware the terrorist

To the Journal editor:

Why are children afraid of the dark? Parents don’t teach them fear. If children are born blank slates, they should have no reason to fear the dark. Perhaps there’s a clue in our evolutionary past.

Hominins didn’t see well at night, which is when many predators are active. Early humans who heard a noise in the night and went to investigate often fell victim to predators.

Those who feared the darkness and took precautions had a better chance to survive and pass along their genetic code.

With education, children can learn to overcome their natural fear. Many believe bigotry is learned. If so, who taught the teachers? When did the first person decide he/she would teach the world to be racist and bigoted, and who was it? Maybe the answer is also in our past.

When early humans came in contact with different groups it was probable the newcomers were there to kill them and steal their stuff. Those who went to welcome the newcomers were likely eliminated from the gene pool.

Those who were apprehensive were more apt to survive and pass along their genes.

The study of identical twins separated at birth shows nature plays an important role in our development. We are born with a genetic template which guides much of our behavior.

But genetic diversity is designed to ensure some will be adapted to survive in an ever changing environment. Today, those born with no natural fear of strangers seldom face an existential threat.

They can survive to pass along that trait. Others still have a natural fear of those different from themselves, but with education they can learn to overcome that fear.

That’s not to say there are no monsters among us. A population which takes precautions to protect itself from those who would do it harm will be more successful than one which doesn’t.

John Kerry once said he hoped we could get to a place “where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they’re a nuisance.”

Donald Trump initiated a temporary travel restriction on those entering the U.S. from seven countries while the vetting process is improved.

For most of us the next terrorist attack will merely be a nuisance, an unpleasant news story affecting some anonymous strangers in another part of the country.

But to those affected, it will be a devastating, life altering experience which can never be undone.

Brad Stried