Monday, December 21, 2015

The Only Thing We Have to Fear is Everything

I don't know exactly where this post is going, so Future Me, when you read this, I'm sorry ahead of time for meandering and not really having a point.

Well, actually, I think I do have a point that I can find pretty quickly. The point is that being afraid is kind of just what we do now. It is who we are. It is ingrained in us. We are afraid of terrorism every time we go through the Lincoln Tunnel. We are afraid of being shot up at the movies. We are afraid of random acts of violence at every turn, and no where feels safe anymore.

We went to see the new Star Wars movie yesterday (awesome, and I say that as a decidedly non-geeky person). The truth is though, I couldn't stop worrying. Every time I saw someone get up from their seat, I worried that they were going to get a gun or bomb or who knows what. The guy sitting next to me was alone at the theater, and right as the lights dimmed, he was up and off (I guess to use the men's room?) and I panicked a little. When he came back and vaulted over the seats to get to our row, I couldn't exhale until he was sitting down and nerding out. It didn't used to be like this. There used to be places that could be an escape from worrying and fear.

This morning, I got up to news that a woman had taken her car and repeatedly driven onto the sidewalk outside the Paris casino on the Vegas Strip. She was aiming for people, both hands on the steering wheel, trying to hit as many people as possible. And, to add just another touch of crazy, she had her 3 year old buckled into the backseat. Vegas could not be more of an escape; it could not feel more unreal and over the top escapist. And yet. there was no safety there.

Of course, there was the terrorist action in Paris about a month ago, with a stadium and concert hall as the targets. I've been to Paris twice and am planning to return next year. It is a dream destination, somewhere to get lost in the beauty and elegance of European perfection. And then there was San Bernadino a couple of weeks ago, with another horrific terror attack in a workplace against people who had just thrown the attacker a baby shower a few months earlier. No one feels like work is an escape from reality - in fact, it is reality itself. It is a place where you worry about losing your job and not being able to pay your bills. but it shouldn't be a place where you worry about losing your life. And of course there have been other incidents over the past few years: the church shootings, the school shootings, the mall shootings...the list goes on.

Where do we find logic in any of this? Where do we rest our minds, if we aren't safe anywhere? Where do we escape to, if not the movies or vacation?

As we were trying to decide about vacations for 2016, I thought of Portugal as an ideal choice because I don't think it would be a big terrorism risk. Where do I really want to go this year? Istanbul and Cappadocia. But Turkey is too risky. Morroco has always drawn me in...but no. Too dangerous. African safari? Top of the list, really. But that's being pushed off as well, because perhaps it's not the best time to head to Africa when so much of it is in turmoil. So even as we are planning to escape from it all, it's all still in the front of our minds. When we are saying, "hey, Salt Lake City and Vancouver seem like top destinations right now!" you know something is off.

Is this the reality now? Is this how we live and how we fear? Is that fear something we never escape?

I remember after 9/11, I was thinking of the middle east. I couldn't get out from under the fear of another terrorist attack after watching the smoke billow from downtown NYC from my office window. I thought of the people who live in the middle east, who live every day wondering if their cafe will be bombed, or their bus, or their nightclub. And I thought about my life, pre-9/11, and how I never thought for a second about going to concerts or sporting events or to Shop Rite for cold cuts...and how people in the world lived every day as if it were 9/12.

Then things calmed down some, and we got into the every day politicking of terrorism. And now the fear is back, not necessarily stemming from another 9/11 but from what that every day Joe you see on the bus every day could do to your store or venue or church.

All I know is that I am sick of living in fear and sick of the knowledge that things will most likely never go back to normal.

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