Today, I'm going to tell a short parable about fear.
In two days, I'll be getting on a jet plane to fly across the country. With two cats. And I am afraid.
What am I afraid of? I am afraid overzealous security personnel at the airport will inadvertantly release one or more of my cats from their carriers, thereby giving me a heart attack and killing me.
I am afraid overzealous airline personnel will refuse to let me board, leaving me trapped at one of the world's busiest aiports in the middle of the night, with two cats, thereby giving me a heart attack and killing me.
What I am not afraid of:
Flying on a jet plane in a post-9/11 world.
Being in an airport in a post-9/11 world.
Starting law school.
The uses of fear, for me, however, are many. Fear keeps me on my toes. As an expert contingency planner, my fear reminds me to plan ahead and be prepared. I have my contingency plan(s) lined up. (I won't need them. Nothing bad will happen. I am prepared nonetheless. This is who I am. This is what I do.) I have never let my fear stop me from doing or being or achieving. (My fear will not stop me from getting on that jet plane. With two cats.)
This seems to be good advice for the Bush Administration. Fear is only useful when it goads you to do something useful.
Color-coded terror alerts, by way of example, do not seem to foot that bill. They are, in fact, quite aptly named. They make you worry, make you fear, but don't offer you the opportunity to do anything constructive.
Terror Alert -- an alert designed to foster terror.
Yes. Yes they are.