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Jewish World Review Dec. 21, 2001 / 6 Teves, 5762

Tony Snow

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Musings -- LET me say something that is embarrassingly obvious.

Terror is a state of mind.

As news stories pour in about Anthrax or aircraft or threats from abroad, we formulate vague fears about vague harms. We fidget and fret. All of this may be natural, but it turns us into accomplices of Usama bin Laden and his gang of killers.

Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld, one of my Fox News colleagues, warns that stress, especially spread across a nation of 280 million people, represents a far greater threat to our health than killer genes or death machines. His advice: Relax. Be properly cautious, but not aggressively anxious.

There's no prison worse than the jailhouse of our unformed fears, because we create the cells and bars ourselves. We make ourselves hostage to our imaginations. So just as terror is a state of mind so is the solution. So take a deep breath. Live.

Don't give in.

I've got two nominees for the most macabre news stories of the week.

First, Siebel Systems, a security company, has published a print ad touting its virtues as a promoter of safety. It boasts of its ability to help the FBI, the CIA, the Department of Defense, private security firms, public security firms -- you get the idea. The weird thing? The ad features a picture of Mohammed Atta, making his way through security on September 11th.

How sick is that?

Then comes word that the family of Usama bin Laden has acceded to a U.S. government request for DNA. Why? Well our government wants some way to confirm the man's identity, should he come into our hands -- or into the custody of any of our allies.

That's all well and good, I suppose. But, come to think of it, there's another potential use for the family genetic material. It could come in handy if Afghans find bin Laden -- and decide to return him not in chains, but in installments.

Our three children are having trouble finding playmates these days.

It's not that they're unpopular.

The problem is a lot of parents in the neighborhood have scheduled their children's activities each and every day of the week. The youngsters swim, dance, play instruments, attend sports clinics, participate in scouts -- you name it, they're doing it.

This approach to parenthood has two obvious effects: First, kids grow up expecting to have somebody attend to them 24 hours a day and keep them entertained constantly.

This is the sort of thing that turns otherwise nice youngsters into indefensible brats.

Second, kids get burned out by these boot camps of fun. Moms and dads might want to experiment with some radical new ideas -- such as letting kids sit on the sofa and read -- or run around outdoors, just enjoying the fresh air and hard play.

And while they're at it fretting about the state of the world you know what, the parents might want. to try the same thing themselves.

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