The recent terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino leave me with face in hands, shaking my head in despair, and asking the great unanswerable question: What are we, as human beings, doing to ourselves?
Over twenty years ago, my husband Gary and I loaded the wagons and left a metropolitan area peppered with gang activity, drive-by shootings, and armed robberies. We trekked north to tiny Fort Bragg with the aim to raise our two young children in a town reminiscent of what life was like when we were growing up.
This community sheltered our tender saplings from the harsh winds of big city realities and allowed them to grow strong and tall. Along the way, we exposed them to places outside this protected island. We encouraged them to eventually leave and experience the real world.
By their senior year in high school, each was eager to squeal their tires, lay rubber, and flip off this small town. They left for college, junior years abroad, and eventually to careers in San Francisco. They have no desire to take up residency here again—even after all the terror that’s sprouted up in “civilized” cities across the world.
Our older children and grandchildren live in Seattle and Boston. I want to scoop everyone up and gather them in Fort Bragg to keep them safe from random acts of violence. But I know they won’t agree to come.
This is the world they’ve matured into and they are much more adaptable to change than I am. I grew up in an era where people didn’t lock their doors—even when they went away on vacation—and often left keys in their parked cars; where children could safely walk alone without fear of abduction; where crazy people didn’t storm public places with automatic weapons and open fire. Today, none of this holds true; it is merely a quaint tale from the distant past.
Fear for my family occasionally becomes my sparring partner and I work hard to beat the crap out of it. When our daughter Laine recently announced she was going to Turkey, I went to the atlas to reaffirm that the country shares a border with Syria. Fear and I went a full ten rounds. The day after her arrival in Istanbul, we woke to a headline that Turkey had shot down a Russian fighter jet for allegedly violating their air space. I spent the day punching fear in the face.
The following day, Russia stated it would not declare war on Turkey. Thank God. I needed a breather. Now that she’s “safely” back home in Oakland, those two countries can have at it. I am powerless to stop whatever madness is to come.
The chances of an encounter with a life threatening, potentially life ending event has always been the luck of the draw. Lately, though, the odds seem increasingly stacked against us. We are being given far more opportunities to draw the short end of the stick.