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A never-ending war

Troubled times: Belgian police patrol the Grand Place in downtown Brussels yesterday. The Belgian capital was in its third day of lockdown, with the city on high alert over fears of a Paris-style attack by the Islamic State group, and police have made a string of arrests in anti-terror raids since Sunday. But even increased security such as this can never fully put our minds at rest amid so many atrocities worldwide (Photograph by Michael Probst/AP)

It’s a word that, these days, seems to weave its way into so many phrases, as ubiquitous as any. Mere mention of “security” invariably implies we don’t have enough. Lack of security becomes noticeable only when it’s too late.

In these troubled times, we hear it repeatedly.

We know we don’t have enough. Nor will we.

As the world grows smaller, we all become more vulnerable, more exposed, more nervous about the people and objects around us. We look over our shoulders and can’t guess what’s around the next corner, and often we don’t want to know.

Our trust diminishes every day.

We have moved into a generation that lives in unbridled fear.

Increased security can never put our minds at rest, whether it be in the hands of the police, the military or the special forces.

In the wake so many atrocities, we have little time to mourn before the next tragedy unfolds.

As one rebel faction grows weaker, another emerges, wreaking more destruction, more carnage.

The headlines become bigger, more frightening, more alarming.

While cushioned by as much security as we can muster, we realise we need more.

This month alone, hundreds of innocent people have been slaughtered — ostensibly in the name of religion.

Entire families have been wiped out. Friends bury friends. There’s not enough grief to go around.

Paris, Mali and Beirut have been rocked and shocked over this past two weeks, their residents distraught and bewildered.

But, sadly, it wasn’t unexpected.

Passenger planes have been shot down even at altitudes of more than 30,000 feet.

Terror has reigned in such far-flung nations as Papua New Guinea.

Bombs have rained across the Middle East, various African insurgents have settled their conflicts with bullets, as have the Syrian splinter groups who have forgotten who they are fighting against and for what cause.

The Taleban rule in Afghanistan, showing no mercy for those who challenge their rule, and roam freely through Pakistan, a country that stones women to death for committing adultery.

Worst of all is Isis — also known as Islamic State, Isil and Da’esh — which has replaced al-Qaeda as the kings of terror, claiming responsibility for all of the recent attacks on humanity.

America is on red alert every day.

If the “land of the free and home of the brave” isn’t threatened by the outside world, it is threatened by the lone wolves who mow down fellow classmates with machine gun-type weapons bought and displayed on the shelves at the superstore.

Gun laws are so lax, children can play with deadly weapons as much as they can play with plastic toys.

Congress argues about who should own these legal firearms, while all the time passing on its condolences to parents who have lost one, even two children.

Hypocrisy is rampant.

As much as Bermuda is sheltered from this wave after wave of violence, we are not immune.

When a tourist wanders through immigration and customs with a gun in his luggage and is not detected until he’s on his way home, we know we’re not as secure as we think.

When a cruise ship passenger walks down the gangplank and on to Front Street with a gun intended for a gang member before being apprehended, we should recognise there are serious gaps in procedure.

Thankfully, these are isolated incidents and we have yet to match our neighbours to the south — and never will. On a bad weekend, Jamaica can run American cities such as Detroit close when it comes to hatchet and gunfights.

Bermuda’s Ministry of Security may believe it has its finger on the ball, and we would like to think it has.

But, then again, we’ve never really been tested.

As yet, cruise ships haven’t been targeted. And hopefully they will not be. But rest assured they are being placed under consideration by any number of terrorist organisations.

Is it possible a boat carrying 3,000 passengers can be holed by an airstrike, bombed from inside, or house a suicide bomber and put every single person aboard at risk?

It isn’t beyond reality.

For an Islamic radical with explosives taped to his or her body, there is no repellent. They value their own lives as little as those whom they aim to kill and maim.

Those intent on indiscriminate murder could plan their travels through the US from a base in Europe via Bermuda, rather than risking a direct flight. British Airways, the only carrier flying into Bermuda from the east, is among the most safe of airlines, but not impenetrable.

With respect, our authorities at LF Wade International Airport may not be as sophisticated as a well-trained terrorist, who could be given a clear path to New York, Miami or Boston without further checks.

Are our security chiefs up to the task?

Could a plot be engineered on the Island before being put into place within the US?

Again, security becomes the operative word and Bermuda could be caught short.

Terrorism knows no boundaries. It is as indiscriminate as it is without conscience.

Bermudians may feel safe in their own homes. But they are inveterate travellers and planning their next holiday is becoming a lottery.

In every country, holidaymakers are being more vigilant than ever before. They know too often that vigilance will never be enough to ensure safety.

We witness horrific scenes on the TV and through the internet, hoping we will never be involved or witness the bloodshed abroad.

Are we possibly not alert to the dangers around us? And if we are, do we have the capabilities to avert the disasters that other countries are enduring?

Probably not.