Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Orange-colored Sky

I was walkin' along, mindin' my business, when out of the orange-colored sky...Flash! Bang! Alakazam! Wonderful you walked by.

"Perhaps I should have a personal rule for myself," I mused while settling on a bench. "No more eating lunch on the front yard of the White House during elevated terror alerts."

Immediately followed by, "What a stupid thought that was."

Really, though, the instinct to think something like that is little more than a reflex: a Pavlovian nod to the news and to the hype before you resume nibbling on your sandwich and taking photos of the tourists—who aren't bothered either—as they strain for a look at the White House from across a moat of concrete and metal gate.

Returning from lunch, I rounded a building that abuts the White House lawn, and ran into a pair of men at the far corner. "Oh, what do you know, I'd find you all the way over on this side, huh?" said one to the other. "Yeah, where it's safe over here!" replied the other before they both let out those deep-bellied guffaws particular to Washington suits.

I smiled to myself, loving that we all laugh at this. We scoff and roll our eyes as the prophets tell us with doomsday tones that "We Have Credible Specific Reliable Unspecific Target Threat Surveillance Planning Suspicious Vigilant - There Is Nothing To Worry About." It's terror fatigue, and most of us just can't be bothered.

Back in Carrollton or Dayton or Cheyenne or wherever, our parents are petrified, terrorized, on our behalf. But here I walk into my office every day and talk to colleagues just back from Baghdad or Kabul, on their way to Dushanbe; colleagues who lived and worked in Tashkent or Islamabad. It's what you call perspective, and the Color of the Day hasn't even come up as a joke. It's just that tired.


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