I’m sitting in my friend Shawn’s apartment in Oakland, California. Less than a mile away, a crowd has gathered to protest the Ferguson verdict. Helicopters are buzzing overhead. Since it’s dark, there’s no way to tell how many are media helicopters and how many are police helicopters.
Part of me – the sensible part, I suppose – wants to stay here inside, where it’s safe. Part of me – the one that seeks interesting topics to write about – wants very much to walk the short distance to where the protests are taking place. And the lazy part of me can’t be bothered to go out, so the end result is two against one: I’ll stay in.
It’s strange, though, knowing that some dramatic things may happen so nearby, while I’ll just be winding down my evening in such a mundane way. The protests could very likely turn into riots. Already the traffic on the highway nearby has been brought to a standstill and protesters are walking among the cars.
It reminds me, in a way, of this past summer, when I was in Israel. The news was filled with Hamas bombs lobbed into Israel, Israeli air raids in retaliation, the Iron Dome defense system, bomb shelters, tunnels.
I wrote at the time about how striking it was that the people in Israel went about their mundane daily business largely undisturbed. As long as they kept away from the cities that were being attacked, as long as the conflict didn’t touch them directly, they could pretend that it wasn’t happening.
We want our normal routine to continue, and as long as whatever is going on doesn’t affect us directly, we keep to that routine. Perhaps that helps keep us calm. Perhaps it helps us cope with fear: pretending the danger isn’t there.
So I sit here and type, while the helicopters keep roaring by.