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Being Held Hostage by the “New Normal”

The term “new normal” was previously used to describe the aftermath of the Great Recession and the economic impact it had on individuals, organizations, governments and societies. It has subsequently been used in other contexts to describe what ‘used’ to be considered an aberration or abnormal event, but has become so commonplace and all encompassing, that it is now considered ‘normal’. The same must now be said about the security environment the world is living in. Sadly, shootings, knifings, bombings and other forms of mass slaughter of innocent people have now become the new normal.

The headlines from the previous few weeks are a testament to this: mass killings by knife in Japan and the U.K., by truck in France, and by gun in the U.S. are among the highest profile examples. Hundreds of people die every week around the world — in conflict zones and all corners of the world – as a result of the deteriorating security environment. Many incidents are acts of terrorism, but, equally importantly, many are not. It has always been the case that being in the wrong place at the wrong time can have disastrous consequences, but never before has it been the case that one’s chance of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, in an otherwise ‘safe’ country, can result in death or injury from a weapon (as opposed to a car crash, bridge collapse, or lightning strike, for example).

Apart from the infiltration of devotees to the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations – who are either home grown or pass through borders undetected by virtue of their porous nature or the rights of citizenship – literally anyone with a desire to carry out attacks on civilians virtually anywhere in the world is emboldened to do so because of the pervasive nature of terrorism, and because anyone with a cell phone or computer may transform him/herself into an instant media sensation. This has encouraged individuals who may never have seriously considered acting on their impulses or desires to do so. When combined with how simple it is in many countries to obtain a gun, buy a knife or even simply to drive a car, literally any place may become a crime scene at any time.

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