The Tipping Point

Buildings in Philadelphia

“Do you have an appointment?” she asked.

“Nah. I’m just going to sit here until the weather passes,” the man said gruffly. He sat down in the corner out of her line of sight.

She shrugged and slid closed the clear glass window to the waiting room. He didn’t look threatening. Rain was pouring down outside. What did it matter if he sat for a few minutes?

He began talking into his phone loudly, clearly agitated about something. Patients looked at each other quizzically, shifting uncomfortably in their seats. They stole furtive glances at him, watching him mutter into the phone pressed against his face. It was impossible to hear exactly what he was saying between the growls.

When is the nurse going to call me back? Please let it be soon.

As he was talking the phone rang loudly. Clearly, he hadn’t been talking to anyone at all….

Then he stood, yelling into the ringing phone, threatening to kill anyone and everyone. As shaky fingers dialed 911, he bolted out of the door and ran across the parking lot never to be found again.

Perhaps I’m a silly dingbat but people behaving like that never would have bothered me in the past, at least not where I would have taken them seriously. 

Now though? We were all shaken up. I find myself wondering what is lying in wait around the corner of every person’s mind. I get nervous at airports and look over my shoulder at large events. Where is the next explosion going to come from? Who will fire the next bullet? Could I have stopped them?

Fear is sexy. Fear sells. Fear drives a wedge, keeping us from reaching out to help others. Fear protects us. Fear hurts us. Fear is necessary and yet it multiplies and it divides us. 

Part of me wants to just stay home, to never go anywhere anymore and then I remind myself that acts of courage are the only way to really combat fear. Anger only feeds fear. So does isolation. 

And so I get onto airplanes and take my kids to places that probably live as targets in someone else’s mind so that at least for me, fear will not win. 

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95 thoughts on “The Tipping Point

  1. Love this!! So true!
    I remember, it was 4 years after 9/11 had happened. My husband and I were going away for our 10th anniversary. We were flying. I had flown before, always loved it. But I hadn’t flown since 9/11 until then. We were in line to get on and I saw 2 men that I thought looked suspicious. I told myselt to stop it, but the fear was there. We got on the plane and the 2 men sat where I could see them. One opened up his laptop and I thought, “Oh my gosh! I was right! He is sending a secret code, there is a bomb”. Ridiculous, I know! But the feeling was there. Fortunately it didn’t last long, we took off and I looked out the window and was lost in the clouds. πŸ™‚
    I totally agree we can’t let fear stop us from going on adventures, for if we do the enemy really did win!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • My mind goes to crazy places now. Perhaps the burden of creativity is being able to imagine every possible irrational scenario from every possible angle? I hate that niggling fear that is always running in the background. I wish I could banish it completely!

      Liked by 4 people

      • You do have a point there. I think it is partially due at least to the burden of creativity. Our minds are always going, even in the directions we don’t want them to go in. Yes lets find a way to banish that part! πŸ™‚

        Liked by 2 people

  2. A good reminder about diffusing, facing, fear of all origins. Not just fear of terrorism, but fear of being hurt emotionally, fear of a broken heart. Isolation and anger will not help, and while they may provide a temporary cocoon for healing, staying in those spaces for too long will never lead to a life well lived. Thank you for the reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reading this after the atrocity on Manchester UK I wonder whether we don’t fear enough? Not that we should hide away or not do those things like take a flight, attend a concert but perhaps we should be more aware that violence has been aroused and is ready to seize any opportunity. Can awareness be healthy? This would never have occurred to me growing up, or when my children were growing up but now –? I don’t have an answer, just so many questions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t remember thinking about this when I was a kid, either. We listened to the news but even though there was a robbery or murder mentioned every night, I don’t remember FEARING it. What makes the difference now? The scale?

      Like

      • I believe the difference is in how society has changed.. Murderers and thieves were once looked at and treated as the dregs, misfits of society.. It’s been a slow conditioning to the opposite.. Even as far back as Bonnie and Clyde.. The murderous duo and their heinous crimes, were nothing like how they were romanticized in books and movies.. Society today, is wide open and anything goes, sanity has left the building.. There is also something revealed in so many “copycat” crimes that happen after one makes national headlines.. Perpetrators are “inspired” for the attention it brings.. What’s worse, is that society is focused into the humanizing of the perp more than the crime.. It seems today, it doesn’t take much to “push someone over the edge” to lash out in a violent act..
        “Express yourself”, is at an extreme.. So yes, there’s a lot to be fearful of.. From insane to cold blooded monsters.. They aren’t recognized for what they are anymore.. They become celebrities for their actions..

        Liked by 1 person

  4. These situations are never easy to deal with. I think we have one response when we feel like we might be in danger, but a different one when we start to feel responsible for others. Acting, even if it’s calling 911, reassures people.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is exactly what these cowards hope to instill. Fear. You know what though? Fuck them, and their hatred and fear cloaked in holy war and martyrdom. They’re the cowards, not us. So yes, I will continue to attend movies, concerts, sporting events, and outdoor cafes. If not, they win. I refuse to let these wastes of skin alter how I live.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I can relate to the fear, and I suppose that’s the point of all this pointless brutality. There are few guarantees in life, and we are more likely to die through illness or accident than anything else. So might as well live it up, and while we’re at it, spread around some love and kindness. It’s the only anecdote to fear I know of.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I think we are in the misconception that what’s happening is something we as a general public can control. Unfortunately I think we have no control over when, or how and that’s exactly what these people wants, for us to all live in fear. It saddens me what human beings can do to each other. I don’t understand it and I don’t think I ever will…. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The randomness makes it impossible to be safe, so what to do? I think maybe we fear more for our children than ourselves. But then it’s hard to let them out into the world under any circumstances. As you say, carry on.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Sadly it is the society we live in today and the events of the last few days have done nothing to relive that fear. Heavily armed police – paramilitary – on the streets does nothing to help calm our fears.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I think there have been weirdos and creepy people forever. I think the media has done a lot to increase fear in people. I never used to be afraid of mentally challenged folks. But then it was a time of innocence which is now lost. Being safe is important. But you never know who has a trigger and what it is and what they will do. We let people roam the streets without shelter and care and then are surprised when they erupt. But to live in fear of different folks is very sad. Different times from when I grew up…we only had bomb shelters and the “Commies” to fear…

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I think we’re all jumpy now Victo. My husband and I were in a fancy hotel recently, where they were setting up for a wedding reception. The table collapsed and made the sound of a gun going off. We all ducked for cover.
    After what happened in Manchester – it just seems like one thing after another.
    Leslie

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m with you. We can’t give in to fear.

    But frankly, I’m more concerned about the white guy who may have a gun who is acting strangely than I am about just about anyone else.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. The world is a very scary place right now. As Yoda said ” fear is the path to the dark side ” i have to believe that the light will always shine the darkness away. If I didn’t, I would never leave my house .

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Fear is natural. It protects us, but being frozen by it; that’s the detriment. Unfortunately, the ‘illustrious’ leaders and representatives of this country peddle fear for the sake of greed. And too push divisive talking points and rhetoric. Making people feel like if they have someone or something to blame, then the world will be better. It won’t. Posts like this, info like this, brings us together. We understand that we’re not alone. And that the feat and the fear mongers fail.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Love the post! A good reminder about not to let the fear get hold of us. There is darkness in the world, but there’s also light :). We got to keep it burning bright so we give the world, hope and strength.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I grew up in Northern Ireland in the 80s and 90s, when stuff was frequently exploding all over the place. It didn’t stop anyone from doing anything. People just lived with it, lived around it, got on with things. I don’t remember ever being scared. Now I live in Edinburgh, where things don’t randomly explode, and when I hear about bombings on the news, it scares the shit out of me. I keep trying to summon what’s left of my inner fearless teenager cause I feel like she’d be better equipped to cope with the world today than I am.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I have always been chicken so these crazy episodes of people losing it and killing people they don’t even know has me terrified. I don’t hide away but the thought of some ridiculous violent act is always in my mind these days.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Anger and isolation definitely feed fear. I won’t live in fear. As a longtime preschool teacher, I often think about those people; what were their lives like when they were 4-years-old? A little love and attention can make all the difference in the world. The defiant, angry children are the ones who need me the most.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I know exactly what you mean. Britain at the moment is one the highest terror alert I remember. The Manchester tragedy has shocked a whole nation and beyond our borders. Sitting in my kitchen, with pizza in the oven and the sun shining in the window, fear is a long way away but yes, it can happen in a moment. Why do people do those horrible, wicked things that keep us in fear and take away our loved ones. It’s not fair. x

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I got the sense that he had a mental illness. You remind me that every other day I have to cross the street or avoid a bus-stop because someone in the throes of a dangerous psychosis is behaving violently. We shouldn’t have to live in fear and neither should they. We need to re-open long term hospitals and provide mandatory treatment to people whose illnesses make them dangerous.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Yes! There is a standard terminology for lunacy in our state, which includes the former address of the massive hospital where these people were housed. People say, “So and so needs to be on Bull Street.” While I sympathise with the innocent patients who were “just too much trouble for impatient families to deal with,” I also sympathize with the rest of society who might be affected by the more severe mental cases. My father-in-law, a perfectly lucid, gentleman was killed (beaten to death) by one of the former assylum inmates who had been moved to his nursing home.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Chronic illness is very hard on families and untreated Schizophrenia is terrifying for the patients and their families. When families seek treatment, they run up against laws that serve no one but insurance companies. The idea that a person who with no judgment or insight can exercise the right to refuse treatment is beyond absurd, it’s cruel.

        Liked by 2 people

  21. I am so sad that the world is in this sad state….what do people think when they strap a bomb to their the body and look for the weak and frail to end themselves…I am baffled by all of this….and I do admit fear is the first thought in my mind when I think of going somewhere public, or traveling again….my kids refuse to be fearful, the will not live there lives in fear of others….I worry for them a lot….my son travels all around the world alone, he is a very trusting soul, and looks for the best in people…I worry about him the most….but fear controls my movements these days….sad I know, but honest…..kat

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Look for the complete Fear litany in Frank Herbert’s:
    …”I will face my fear.
    I will let it go over me and through me…”
    (I’m still working on it though)
    Thank you for your posts, Victoire, they “keep my mind from wandering”….

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Fear is okay. When people really want to harm and/or kill you will notice the intent to do so. Someone’s eyes reflect this. Most people would not harm a fly, maybe a mosquito but that is it.

    When you do not trust a situation do what is necessary. In Amsterdam sometimes people walk in and all I do is simple, I say “Hello!” with a cheerful tone to make them respond. No response from the voice or eyes and you know something is wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. After the recent events in Manchester and London (I’m a Brit), nearly everything makes me feel like this, but we’ve got to fight it if only inside ourselves, I think. Do you not have notices in waiting rooms and reception areas in medical centres there, like many do here, that say patients who are aggressive or abusive will be asked to leave or removed?

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Fear is an imaginary thing. The more you imagine about all the thing that could possibly go wrog the more it manifests. But at the same time it is a necessity too. Coz it helps to keep us aware of the dangers. And dangers are real.yes. they are

    Liked by 1 person

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