Monday morning about 1:00 a.m. I opened the door to my home after spending two glorious weeks in Egypt. The cats greeted me with yawns and stretches, then purrs. My husband, Stephen, stayed behind for one more week.
Before I acclimate to being home and am no longer surprised by things I had grown accustomed to before I left, I want to say a few words about what the U.S. feels like these days. I actually started noticing it in Egypt when I’d check Facebook. I had to be on the web to teach my online courses, so I posted some pictures of our trip and read a few posts.
When the Boston bombing happened, I noticed that everybody seemed to have to take a stand on it. Why is that? Terrorist bombings happen in lots of countries. People don’t get up on soap boxes and make speeches about them. They don’t apologize to the world or make public pronouncements about praying or rail on about catching the culprits. They do wish them to be caught, but they don’t obsess and feel self-righteous about it. Or like special victims.
When I got home, people were still talking about it. Salman Rushdie commented on this phenomenon when he was on the Bill Maher Show last week. When the IRA bombed London during the 1970-80s, people were irritated, yes. Some people died. Very sad. But your average citizen, after being sad and annoyed, simply replanned their route to work. They moved on.
I got a newsletter from a writers’ organization and the president felt the need to say something about it in her monthly column. Just to acknowledge that it had happened. Like we could have missed it? It had nothing whatsoever to do with the organization or content of the newsletter.
On the other hand, everyone wondered if Egypt was safe. Yes, in fact it was very safe. Our group was welcomed everywhere we went with only one exception, and there people just didn’t smile or catch our eye. How violent is that? Once our bus was rerouted because of protests. A slight inconvenience. Otherwise, everyone was happy and polite and making the best of life. We saw long gas lines. Prices are going up. I’m confident the people of Egypt will rise up and make some changes in their government soon. I was only encouraged not to feel safe when I returned home.
We don’t have to participate in this. It does take some refocusing of one’s attention. And we are all affected by the general atmosphere we live in. Let’s ask ourselves why this atmosphere of paranoia and fear and victimhood is being perpetrated. Let’s just say no to it.
Picture by Carmen Miller