Safe

by Erik Orton

A lot has happened in the Orton home in the last month.  Emily and I went sailing in French Polynesia for a week with some good friends.  Our agent started sending our book proposal to publishers.  And Karina has moved to Europe for the summer.  Turns out she was in Manchester when the bomb went off in Manchester Arena.  She was a mile down the road.  She was fine. 

The other week I was laying in bed reading a book.  The book slipped out of my hands and the surprisingly sharp corner hit me on the forehead.  I was literally hit right between the eyes.  It drew blood.  At the risk of sounding insensitive, I got more injured reading a book in my own bed than my daughter did being close to one of the most horrendous terrorist attacks of late.

I never know where danger hides.  I never know where disaster will strike next.  I think about fear and how it holds me back.  Fear is what terrorists want me to feel.  Their goal is to conform the world to their view point by creating fear.  I don’t agree with their approach.  I recognize and condemn terrorists.  I also think there are more subtle and wide spread forms of terrorism.  If I ever try to tell my kids, “Watch out, be careful,” I don’t think I’m a terrorist, but I am saying “be afraid.”  Sometimes this is with just cause.  Sometimes this is me transferring my own fears to them.  Caution can be good.  It can put us on alert and help us prevent danger.  Isn’t that what’s happening right now in England?  They’re on high alert. 

I don’t pretend to have the answer for what is the right balance of caution and fear.  But I want to be conscious of whether or not I am creating fear, uncertainty or trepidation in myself or others.  I think much of the time—out of love—I want to warn and sound the alarm.  And yet, I may inadvertently be making it more difficult for someone else to feel calm and peace.  This book about George and Martha is a perfect example of what I’m talking about.

While Emily and I were sailing there were 10,000 miles between us and our oldest daughter.  There were 6,000 miles between us and the rest of our children.  We got some minor bumps and bruises but otherwise we came home safely.  Karina is now in the Welsh countryside hiking through the hills and dells.  When and where are we safe?  Who’s to say.  But I hope I personally am never guilty of instilling fear.  After all, I could justly say, “Never read a book in bed.  You never know what could happen.”