It’s Earth Day, a celebration and cultivation all things green and growing. But in the past week, the country’s biggest crop was fear. First came the Boston Marathon bombings on Monday, followed soon after by the ricin in President Obama’s mail and deadly explosions of West, Tex.
Usually slow to internalize threats, figuring I could die any minute regardless of where I am, this time I felt a pinball of worry start to ricochet around my chest. I live just a few miles from the White House, the Pentagon, and the National Mall with its surge of tourists (one of whom, you have to remember, recently turned up dead — and wasn’t the first). These could each be the next place to shatter.
Then apprehension looped back to Boston with a city-wide shutdown on Friday and my thoughts turned to a very pregnant acquaintance there. What would that be like, anticipating your first birth with a host of unknowns, and not allowed to leave the house? The pinball spun again. News of a quake in China’s Sichuan province, hitting without warning. It killed more than the first blasts had even injured and injured 70 times as many as the Boston bombings. The death toll and severity of tragedies kept climbing, and I was terrified to think what the next event would bring.
Now five are dead in shootings near Seattle and hundreds more have fallen in the conflict in Syria.
It wasn’t just about terrorism, natural disaster, or killing on the ground. Even politicians feared politics this past week, scared of either–depending on the account you read–upsetting constituents or blowing their liberal political capital.
And finally, with a flurry of campaign mailings, I saw that D.C. voters were afraid of what other voters might do with an election. At-large City Council candidate Patrick Mara had local organizations and candidates dreading that this vastly democratic city might elect a Republican tomorrow. One mailing revealed a fear that people might grant Mara an advantage not by voting for him outright, but by checking off the box for a candidate who had dropped out.
The glimmer of good news is that these scary events have prepared responders. And the news cycle can spiral back down faster than a dropped Slinky, covering how some remain fearless in their fame. Still many facets of fear are seeping into a new week.