Life As We Know It: May 20, 2013

        It’s a shame that so many Europeans and many other foreigners say they are afraid to travel to America because they think we’re a cesspool of crime and mayhem. It’s true that some urban neighborhoods, including a few in Toledo, are not places where you’d want to take a long walk after dark.

        But somebody needs to tell our overseas friends that we do not all live in fear for our lives. Most Americans go about their day freely and without undue worry about their personal safety.

        The United States certainly has its share of horrifying tragedy. A gunman attacks a college campus in Virginia, a Congresswoman’s meet and greet in Arizona, or a movie theater in Colorado, or bombs explode at the Boston Marathon, and millions around the world watch the news and say, “See, there they go again.”

        Invariably, however, such awful events are the acts of deranged, mentally disturbed, and often suicidal individuals. The easy availability of guns makes their deadly mission a little easier, for sure.

        However, what you don’t see in America is the sort of mindless thuggery that led to the loss of 74 lives at a soccer match in Egypt a couple years ago. Soccer violence is an old story, but seldom does it produce such a staggering death toll.

        The tragedy that occurred in the Egyptian city of Port Said should remind foreigners that their chances of becoming a victim of crime in our country may be less than the risk they face in their own. Lamentably, the world is full of bad guys and individuals with incredibly lousy judgment.

        The fear works both ways. Would you want to spend a week in Somalia? Maybe a few days in Iraq? Even Mexico, a beautiful land with a rich history and culture, seems a lot less safe these days as the drug lords battle it out.

        Homicide rates per 100,000 population remain high in Africa and South America, and they’re significantly higher in the Caribbean than in North America, so do you cancel that cruise to Cozumel or Aruba? Is Rio during carnival suddenly off limits to the super-cautious?

        The point is that some parts of the world are indeed dangerous places, but it would be foolish to avoid the wonders of Paris or Rome -- or San Francisco -- because of irrational fear provoked by a perception of risk.

        Life is a risk every day. Nobody gets out alive. We should not forget to live it.

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        Well, here we are more than a decade in to the new millennium and we still aren’t sure how to say it. It was easy the first several years. First it was “two thousand,” then “two thousand one,” and so on. Nobody said “twenty hundred four,” or worse, “twenty four,” and rightly so.

        But I thought by now we’d all be saying “twenty thirteen.” Didn’t happen. Maybe it’ll sound better by “twenty twenty.”

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