Want to see terrorism? Look no further than our own backyard

I live in a theme house. It’s great! I cook for myself, clean for myself, and have space. The space is great, and we’re still right on campus. I love it. The first time I realized that I could scream and not have people from rooms all around me screaming back was bittersweet. Sweet because I knew I could blare my music all I wanted. Bitter because… what if something happened? I told this to a friend of mine who laughed and said, “This is Indianola,” like that explained everything. And I guess it did. I mean, this is Indianola. I know people who have left their keys in their car, unlocked, all day on a busy street and never worried. Sure, there have been minor thefts, but that’s what a bike lock is for. It’s coming to the close of my third year here, and I’ve never felt unsafe.

Until now.

A sign hangs on my house. It’s against the war. First we laughed, had fun with it, and reveled in the cars honking their horns. Then people started shouting. Yelling hateful things. Telling us to get out. And one night a rock shattered the glass. Recently a truck pulled into our driveway and laid on the horn until we came to the door, then they sped away down the street.

I keep remembering my words “I could scream and no one would hear me.”

I don’t feel safe anymore. We’re not on the main route of security. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” That was fine to remember when there were no stones. But the second that glass shattered, the violence level went up. It was like suddenly someone picked up a hand gun in the middle of high school debate. That potential is there. Someone shattered white crosses to spell out “God bless the USA.” It’s not peacetime anymore. The war may be overseas, but it’s not blocked out by our white picket fences.

The terrorists really surround us, and they don’t wear neon signs over their heads. They wear baseball caps, ponytails, Simpson college sweatshirts, and worn out sneakers. They look like you, and they look like me. They live next door, down the hall, and attend all the same classes. The terrorists surround us, and we don’t even know it. We say Saddam threatens our freedom, but I haven’t received an email from him questioning my morality or citizenship. I don’t see him waving white cross shards in front of the chapel. I don’t think he was the driver of that truck in my driveway. Saddam hasn’t threatened me one bit. I don’t fear that he will take my life or damage my house. For those concerns, I have to look no further than my own school yard.

How can we find peace overseas when we can’t even keep it amongst ourselves? Our goals are the same, but we’re so blinded by who’s right and who’s wrong we can’t even see it.

And I don’t feel safe anymore.

Jinya Elsner

Guest Contributor