I’m listening to Anne Tyler’s A Spool of Blue Thread in the car during my commute to work.
“Oh, what a world, what a world,” says Abby to her future mother-in-law, Mrs. Whitshank. “That’s what the wicked witch says in The Wizard of Oz.”
“In a way, it sounds kind of pitiful,” Mrs. Whitshank says.
Those words echoed in my mind all morning as I sat through two hours of “active shooter” training at work. Two hours of startling statistics, images of gunmen and their unspeakable acts at Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, and then videos of staged scenarios that grip your heart and fill you with fear. This is what the world has come to: that we must ingrain in our minds how to get out, how to escape, where to seek shelter behind partitions or locked doors, and how to barricade ourselves from bullets.
Danger lurks everywhere. “Violent crime in LA is up 12.7%” says today’s Los Angeles Times. My son, Paul, is deployed to Afghanistan until the end of April and the headlines keep me in a constant state of anxiousness, “A Horrifying Year for Afghan Civilians,” “Bombings Kill At Least 26 in Afghanistan.”
I worry about Paul staying safe during the rest of his deployment. I worry about the safety of my staff. I worry about bullets flying and innocent victims.
It makes me pause and reflect. My complaints about everyday life – work pressures, brain injury, caregiving responsibilities, what to cook for dinner – seem so small and insignificant.
Oh, what a world, what a world.