I live in a small, middle class neighborhood in Phoenix. It's usually quiet. There are horse farms to the north and south nestled among schools, churches and businesses. My daughter goes to school about two miles north of our house and because the school doesn't have busing, I take the city bus or walk depending on the weather. The first half mile of that walk is through my own neighborhood. Today, I was stopped in the middle of that walk by a convoy.
In the lead, a large white cargo van with "K9" stenciled in the front window. Behind, two ginormous armored trucks (one with a battering ram). Both were labeled SWAT and their team members clung to the open backs of these behemoths. Following were two police cruisers, another van, an SUV and a couple of unmarked officer vehicles.
They turned a street or two north of me and a few minutes later I could hear someone barking orders over a loudspeaker. Couldn't make out words, but it had the tone of the "come out of the house with your hands up" thing you see in movies.
As if this wasn't enough action, I found a bullet on the side of the road at the city bus stop across the street from K's school. I'm no ballistics expert, no matter how many episodes of CSI I've watched. What I found had been chewed by Goodyear and asphalt. The bottom, though, read clearly "Winchester 223 Rem". Couldn't tell if it was real, if it was someone's novelty key ring or if it was a spent casing. I don't know. Looked it up...apparently it's a rifle round.
I have to say that this well and truly freaked my shit out. Violence and crime are commonplace, it's true, but I can't say that they have been so diluted by television, movies and a 24 hour news cycle that I just shrug off the physical evidence. And that got me to thinking.
I am blessed. I don't live in a place where armed safety personnel patrol outside my window on a regular basis. I don't live in a neighborhood that is a militarized zone. There are day laborers waiting for pickup a quarter mile from my house... not car bombers. This freaked me out because it's not normal... and that's good.
We've got it good. In this country I think it's easy to get swept up in abortion debates or partisan politics or worrying about the Super Bowl or award season. Doesn't matter if you're the 1% or 99%, Democrat or Republican, Pro-Choice or not, whatever... it doesn't matter. You are lucky if you don't have to walk out your front door and fear an air raid or suicide bomber. That's not an everyday fear for most Americans.
We've got it good. Remember that.
And don't blow it.