I’m trying something a little different here. I wrote “My Terrorist Eye: Risk, the Unexpected, and the War on Terrorism” between 2004 and 2008. The events that inspired it are made clear in the essay. The link below leads to a PDF that you should be able to download and read at your leisure.
In the wake of the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, there’s been much talk about safety and how to ensure it. I come at the question from a slightly different angle: Given that we can’t reduce risk to zero, how much risk is acceptable and what are the tradeoffs?
Our world, no less than the worlds of so-called primitive peoples, is so riddled with dangers, the wonder isn’t that some people are phobic. The real wonder is that we all aren’t incapacitated by fear. We can take precautions, but precautions don’t guarantee that accidents won’t happen. Nevertheless, many people cling to the conviction that bad things happen only to the careless, the godless, or the karmically unfortunate. They can’t bear to acknowledge the wild card.