The Scream by Edvard Munch

Last week I visited a large department store in nearby Mesa, Arizona.  I strolled through the gentleman’s department, hoping to find a Christmas present for my brother-in-law, but I had no luck.  There were plenty of gifts for men, but they all seemed to be packaged in leather boxes and to cost a trillion dollars – just not appropriate for giver or givee.

One of the gift items was what I imagine was called an Executive Tool Kit.  It was a large leather case containing a wide assortment of shiny new tools: wrenches, screw drivers, sockets, and so forth.  A young couple was examining it in passing, and the young man picked up the largest wrench from the case and said, “I can’t believe they just leave this stuff out like this.”  I thought to myself, ‘neither can I; someone might steal it.’  But that wasn’t his point.  He continued, “A terrorist might come along and take this, and then what might happen?.”

Huh?  A terrorist in Dillards in downtown Mesa?  And then what?  Take a salesclerk hostage?  Well, I suppose it could happen, and I certainly can’t make light of potential terrorist threats to the U.S.  But isn’t it sad that an able-bodied young man would look at a set of tools that he should covet, and instead worry about terrorists?  I sense a general low-level fear here in the States – fear of the future, fear for the economy, fear of terrorists, fear of strangers.  It is disquieting and disheartening and more than a little disturbing…