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All Points West: We shall not give into fear
November 21, 2015 Frank Marquez   

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Before you continue reading, here’s my disclaimer and appropriately, it’s an old saying: “Hope for the best, and prepare for the worst.”

Lately, talk has been about whether or not a terrorist attack could happen at home. But could it happen in our own backyard here in the Panhandle, and at the heart of where most of us live in Scottsbluff and Gering? The sort of broad general answer is if it can happen in Paris, where French citizens mostly felt safe about living and working in a large European metropolis, it can happen anywhere, even in a small farming community such as ours.

Why? Because no one would expect it, and an attack here would send a message of a terrorist group’s reach and impact. To wit, there are simply no frontlines in modern warfare. Better to be safe.

As of the latest reports investigating the attacks on Saturday that killed more than 120 people in Paris, and in which ISIS has claimed responsibility, two gun-wielding suicide bombers have been taken into custody. A worldwide manhunt is underway for the “highly dangerous” Belgian-born French National Sala Abdeslam, who is suspected of being involved in the attacks. Several national news reports say attacks on countries opposing ISIS are imminent.

The attack on western civilization has brought fear home. Reaction to the possibility was made more real after we began to reject the idea of accepting Syrian refugees into the United States. Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts recently joined several other states’ governors in refusing to allow Syrian refugees to live among us because they present a risk that any number of terrorists would be among them. Although it cuts across the grain of my Christian nature of reaching out to true refugees in need who have suffered for months if not years at the hands of extremists making their lives a nightmare, my thought is the same as Ricketts’. We can take no chances.

What can we do at home? As a part-time soldier in the National Guard, I have become accustomed to terrorist alerts at all levels. Reports and common sense tell us we are targets here and abroad, even more so when we wear the uniform. We are told, vigilance is our watchword.
Situational awareness is tantamount to survival.

Therefore, I was glad and dismayed to see a website called “Be Ready Nebraska” at www.bereadynebraska.com for how to prepare for disasters and emergencies in our area, with a well-developed segment dedicated to defining Crimes and Terrorism.

“The intent of terrorism is of great concern to local public safety agencies throughout the United States. The intent of terrorist groups is to intimidate or coerce through violence, or the threat of violence, against governments and the general population in order to further a political, social, religious or other agenda.”

Add to this definition the word extremism, and it paints a grim picture.
Negotiations with these groups seem highly unlikely.

The Be-Ready-Nebraska website recommends the following actions, which I wholeheartedly endorse:

Get to know and work with neighbors.

Keep the property clean and orderly.

Set timers on lights when away from the home or office.

Illuminate or eliminate hiding places such as bushes, alleys, stairwells (or any place an assailant might hide or take cover).

Keep spare keys with a trusted neighbor, not under the mat, in the mailbox, or ledge.

Report suspicious people, vehicles, or situations. Remember, if it seems out of place, it probably is.

Establish and maintain a Neighborhood Watch group.

Sounds like common sense, right? The threats are real, especially in our ever growing smaller world. Inform and equip yourselves. As your neighbor, I ask that you follow these tips, and to take them seriously.
As the editor of the Gering Citizen, I do not intend to exacerbate fear, but to say we will not allow ourselves to live under such a yoke. It is our civic responsibility to carry out these measures.
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