The Age of Fear

When I was a child in my native Sri Lanka, if someone on the street looked up at the sky, within moments, many pedestrians followed suit, even though there was nothing up there. We used to play jokes on people by stopping suddenly in the middle of the street and looking skyward, knowing that in moments, traffic would snarl, horns would go off, life itself would pause and everyone would laugh over it afterwards. It was the age of innocence.
When I returned to the old country this year, commuters jumped out of buses if an unidentified bag was found; motorists with out• of•province plates were frisked at checkpoints; people sighed in relief when they returned home from work safely; groups dispersed in the street shaking their heads in nervous release when the news announced “only 10 died, not 100” as earlier reported of the latest bomb blast. We had entered the age of fear.
Seeking solace I returned home, my new home, in this beautiful cold country with its myriad lakes, only to hear about financial markets crumbling for the umpteenth time, victims of greed and subsequent fear of the consequences; gas prices spiked even when hurricanes blew clean away from vulnerability zones and people were avoiding meat products for fear of poisoning themselves. We are in the age of fear and it has spread globally.
Finding the road back to innocence is indeed the next challenge. Looking back up at the sky. Is anyone up to the task?

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