August 9, 2006
The Difference a Day Makes
In these post 9/11 days I have learned to allow more time
when flying so I won't have to sweat it
if there is a particularly long security line. For an overnight
trip to Salt Lake City I slid easily through security, having
mastered the moves to make good time. Just a day later, the
world turned itself upside down ' a bit.
An alleged plot was discovered and a group arrested in Britain
for plotting to bring down a number of airliners simultaneously
as they flew from Heathrow to points in the U.S. They were
intending to use ordinary liquids [of undisclosed nature]
to mix homemade bombs once on board. Boom! A terrorist statement!
Returning to New York I checked my carry on, surrendering
convenience for the sake of saving my brand new tube of toothpaste
and all the other sundry liquids and gels with which I travel.
Leaving myself plenty of time, I once again lucked out, slipping
through security in a break in the crowds. As my knapsack
was ransacked [I had remembered to remove my Purell and had
forgotten the small bottle of water] everyone joked, the mood
was not unpleasant. Talking to both airline and TSA folks,
they commented that most people understood, though a little
bewildered when arriving first thing this morning to discover
new rules overnight.
Last week, having retreated from the torrent of news that
spills out of the media machines, I am back this week, the
heat having broken and, in its lessening, reigniting my curiosity
in the world beyond my overheated sphere. On the radio I heard
a National Geographic Radio Expedition, an audibly haunting
story of efforts to save orangutans in Indonesia, a subject
to which I have given little thought and about which I now
know now, thanks to the far reaching ability of media to bring
the far close to home. It is inspiring; media's
power, and frightening if you concentrate simply on the terrors
that are marching across the landscape, wondering if the Israeli/Hezbollah/Lebanese
war is a war by proxy, greater forces fighting in smaller
places? Or when I listened to the thrum of reports out of
London about the plot to blow up planes to America.
The monstrous bloodshed happening highlights the tribal and
primal pushes that drive men to murder their fellow man; in
India, Muslims no longer feel safe in their own country, because
they are Muslim. The Muslim/Israeli situation defies my personal
logic; I cannot comprehend the Shiite/Sunni rivalry that is
racking Iraq. Is that country locked in insurgency, civil
war or both? Probably both; there seems enough hatred there
to drive both bloodlusts and more to boot.
In an issue of USA Today a poll shows a majority of us as
thinking of the world as being the most dangerous it has been
in our lives. I don't quite think that.
One of the searing moments of my childhood was the Cuban Missile
Crisis. I thought the world was going to end in one big nuclear
mushroom cloud. I recall sitting on the steps leading to our
basement, my father telling me it was going to be all right.
I did not believe him.
I don't have that kind of fear today; I do have a sense of
dis-ease, deep and profound, that "things" are not
going well anywhere and that we are on a sliding slope, slipping
into troubles which will takes us a LONG time to get away
from, if ever, in my lifetime.
It is surprising yet inspiring that Daryn Kagan is giving
up her CNN anchor seat to develop a media presence devoted
to bringing more hopeful news to us, in an effort to counterbalance
the carnage that captivates us onscreen. It is what New Yorker
Paul Sladkus has done with his www.goodnewsbroadcast.com
site, a web presence to hold a candle up in the darkness.
While we seem careening toward a clash of civilizations,
Muslim against the rest, it is good to know there are men
and women who are holding up candles in the twilight, encouraging
us to do the same.