Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Are We There Yet?

There was a story in the Post this morning about unexplained smoke that has shut down Metro service a couple of times recently. It seems that no one is quite sure what's causing it. What struck me in the story this morning was the ready assumption that this could be terror related. Obviously, in this city, the threat of terrorist actions is real and constant, but the fear fomented by an administration that sees a terrorist behind every bush, as it were, leaves everyone looking first for terrorists whenever anything remotely out of the ordinary happens.
Dick Cheney's one-percent doctrine -- roughly stated, that if there is a one-percent chance of terrorist activity the United States should respond as if the suspected action was certain -- spills over to infrastructure maintenance. Indeed, it spills over in advance, such that we spend billions on homeland security but, my bet at this point, not nearly enough to prevent some run-of-the-mill electrical glitch that has now shut down the main arteries of the capital city's public transit system.
Are we safe yet?
Fear also explains this additional report in today's news: Americans own 270 million of the world's 875 million known firearms.
Are we safe yet?
The same fear explains a study, now more than 15 years old, that reported that the radius children are allowed to roam outside of their homes had shrunk to a ninth of what it had been 20 years earlier. At that rate, by now most kids must never step outside unaccompanied by an adult.
Are we safe yet?
Somewhere in all of this there is a meditation on fear waiting to be born, but I've got to run now, because I'm currently sitting too close to the Metro station for comfort.

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