The news last weekend of an attempted car bombing in Times Square gave me pause, as I’m sure it did most Americans, though not for long. It’s not that I’m numb to terrorism, or whistling past the graveyard. As long as dirt-faced cave dwellers are vowing revenge on the likes of South Park in the name the invisible man to whom they pray, I’ll consider it a tangible threat. And certainly when the would-be Times Square bomber, despite being on the “no-fly” list, is allowed to board an international plane just before his arrest, then I think we can all agree that we have a lot of work to do, despite thwarting at least a couple of dozen attempts since 9/11.
Nevertheless, most of us have neither the time nor the inclination to dwell on such events, and rightfully so. Terrorism is no reason to hide in your cave, if you will, and certainly no reason to avoid foreign or domestic travel. Earlier in the year, I posted an entry explaining how unlikely you are to die in an accidental plane crash. According to this piece in the Wall Street Journal, just one in 25 million passengers died in the 2000s as the result of a terror attack on a commercial airliner (while one person in 500,000 gets killed by lightning, every year).
Terrorism is just one of a laundry list of fears people have when it comes to travel. Others include murder, kidnapping, rape, imprisonment, theft, and of course, natural disasters. If Osama bin Laden is still alive, sipping Fanta and shitting in his cave latrine while delegating dirty work to his foot soldiers, I imagine that the eruption of Mt. Eyjafjallajokull must have caused him to eat his heart out at least a little bit. One hundred thousand flights were canceled and $1.7 billion lost on an entire continent. Sure, nobody died, but Mother Nature reminded us all that despite our capacity to inflict harm on one another, she’s still in charge.