Oxygen and terror. Rarely do sentences contain such oddities. Except they were written with blue pencils. But wait a moment. Few things have stimulated interest in this world as those strange bed fellows. Yet it appears that we have more mismatches these days than compatibles. (Like America and France in G-8.)
Now consider similarity between oxygen and terror.
First, they have provided an endless field of study and research for brains. A study of oxygen will take you to oxides, combustion, oxidation, acidation, respiration, and organic matter at elementary level; and climatology, mineralogy, metallurgy, oceanography, military warfare, sub-marine technology, and astronomy at advanced level. (Is there water in Pluto?)
When you begin a study of terror, you will need to know about bio-terrorism, nuclear terrorism, agro-terrorism, eco-terrorism, cyber-terrorism, chemical terrorism, and radiological terrorism. But this is a beginner’s class.
For dissertation, you have to find out secret of making, deploying, and detonating a nuke; financing and movement of terrorist funds; decoding terrorist signals; how to plan and execute a successful attack; turning crude weapons to killer giants; identifying and catching a terrorist; how to fool security men; survival in caves and caverns; and best way to stop terrorism. (Is it not by sacking sovereign states?)
The next common thing about them is their superabundance. Oxygen, most abundant of all elements, gives life to all living things and combines with other elements to make life possible on this earth. No wonder it is called vital air. (Priestly who isolated it named it dephlogisticated air.)
Terror, however, is present in another way. It destroys all living and non-living things. (They call it beast.) The contrast then is that while one dephlogisticates—relieves inflammation—the other causes it. While oxygen means life, terror means death. Here confluence and divergence between them end.
Because terror is now playing Bermuda Triangle (from Bermuda, a group of islands in North Atlantic). It is said that any ship or airplane that passes by deadly triangle disappears without trace.
But, today, airplanes and ships, and their human passengers, are vanishing in unsuspected spots, giving rise to rumor that triangle is shifting position with rotation of earth and movement of continental shelves. Already, twelve magnetic places around world, including North and South Pole, are fingered as danger zones, so that none is safe anymore. You and your boat can vanish for aye in middle of your “innocent” country river.
Similarly, terror has been moving insidiously—from Middle-East to South East Asia, on to East Africa, then to America, and now in Western Europe. And each time it strikes, cyclical pattern is apparent—multiple simultaneous attacks at back of security men.
After 9/11, they did it again in Queen’s kingdom—Great Britain—four separate attacks in London in middle of G-8 meeting. And Scotland Yard anti-terrorist squad—beaten round and silly in their game at home—was, for once, consigned to a state of stupefaction—and tutelage.
We are once more repeating old pattern—random condemnation, and a pledge to pulverize al-Qaida to smithereens like atoms. Or like those finer particles from which universe was made after Big Bang.