I have friends who, every day for the last six years, have taken the same train to and from school. This week, they (saved up their allowances and) took cabs.
A close family friend carries balloons in the Thanksgiving Day parade every year, but this year she watched on TV.
In the wake of the haunting ISIS propaganda video that threatened New York, these are the subtle, yet impactful ways that our daily lives have been disrupted. As we walk into school every morning, we are greeted by cheery security guards with big smiles on their faces; they address us by name and tell us to have a good day, just as they did before the rise of ISIS. Yet, now the tension is palpable - somehow the security guards have transformed from being a friendly face who, when in a good mood, allow you to bend the rules and order in food, to a walking, talking reminder that the threat of terrorism is ubiquitous.
There have been no credible threats against our city yet, and the NYPD is the finest anti-terror police force in the world. But the human mind, and especially the teen mind, is rarely governed by logic and reason. More often, it is ruled by fear and emotion.
On the night of the Paris attacks, my phone was abuzz with angry and confused messages - some of them from friends who were ready to enlist and fight ISIS themselves, some from friends who wanted to double bolt their doors and stay in bed, and some (from those who think more like I do) who were ready to run for Congress and protect their families through legislation.
All of these messages were united by common themes - fear and a call to action. However, when the sun rose the next morning, reality set in: there is nothing we can do.
Most of my friends are 15, too young to enlist, let alone run for Congress; locking the door doesn’t get rid of the voices in your head.
What is most terrifying about terrorism is that it is arbitrary. There is nothing you can do to provoke it, and there is nothing you can do to avoid it.
Despite this truth, people try to evade an unsubstantiated threat by putting their daily routines on hold. With that, ISIS wins. Their goal is to provoke irrational fear, disproportionate to the danger that exists in order to stop us from living our lives and expressing our freedom.
The only way that a 15-year-old filled with rage and confusion can fight ISIS is by taking the subway, marching in a parade, and continuing to enjoy the liberty that they will never know.
Zeke Bronfman is a high school student in Manhatttan. Have an idea for him? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org