It is easy to say there is no place safe anymore. Can't go to the mall now without thinking about Kenya. Can't go to a marathon without thinking about Boston.
Can't go to the movies without thinking about Aurora.
Can't go in a plane without thinking about 911.
Can't go on a train without thinking about London.
Can't go to a government building without thinking about Oklahoma City, Fort Hood and the Washington Navy Yard.
Can't go to any inner city without thinking about Chicago.
Can't go to church without thinking about the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin.
Can't go to school without thinking about Newtown, Columbine, Virginia Tech.
Can't go home without thinking about Cheshire.
It is easy to say we can't go anywhere without thinking about how easy it would be for any of the above and any of the unforeseen to happen to any of us or those we love at any time or any place.
So we make mental notes of what to do in the event of an attack, though knowing there's only a certain amount we can do.
We are vulnerable to acts of terrorism, whether terrorism is defined in the Code of Federal Regulations as "the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives" — or terrorism sparked by mental instability or a culture of violence or any other root cause or motivation.
No matter. It is all terrorizing. It is all deadly.
Yes, though we journey through a litany of tragic, murderous events that flow like a red tide slamming against our storm-weary brains and proclaim with our best wishes, our most positive thinking and our most fervent denials that this is not the new normal, this is not the new reality of life in America and the world — it is.
Our president has become the designated master of the somber ceremony of meeting and speaking with families of victims of the latest violence somewhere in America. How many more gatherings will he attend during the remainder of his presidency?
It is easy to say humanity has changed and the world is now more off kilter than it ever was. But people and the world are the same. It is the capacity to do harm that has increased exponentially due to modern weapons, just as the way to inform us of each event has increased exponentially due to modern technology. So we see and hear far beyond the borders and boundaries of the past.
We know more about bad things done.
We believe we are at the mercy of those who wish to do us harm.
We take no solace in the knowledge that the chances of our being victims of any form of terrorism are statistically negligible. A look at the Centers for Disease Control's leading cause of death show we are more likely to die of cancer, heart disease, accidents involving cars, planes or water, or our own hands than by the bombs or bullets of any form of terrorism. Yet, we invest in all measures of security and screening.
Just in case.
Because people get hurt, people get killed and the living live in fear.
It is fear that makes us imagine the shadows are taller and wider than they are. It is fear that makes us want to put armed guards in schools. It is fear that makes us willing to surrender our freedom for security.
Six of 10 Americans in an ABC News/Washington Post Poll in June said they support intelligence-gathering efforts of the National Security Agency to collect extensive phone records and Internet data to help identify terrorist threats.
It makes sense: How free are we if we aren't safe?
But conversely: How safe are we if we aren't free?
There is no place safe.
Perhaps with that understanding we might be free to appreciate what we have and those with whom we share whatever we have.
Or maybe that's just too sentimental.