Last night at 7:15 p.m the lights went out for 12,000 people in Vancouver USA.
At first, my wife accused me of running the portable heater while there were too many other electrical appliances running. As I stumbled my way out into a pitch black garage to trip the breaker back on, I suddenly realized that all of the lights in the neighborhood, and for as far as I could see, were off.
At first I thought it was just a typical blackout and that the lights would be quickly restored. After stumbling through the dark, we managed to find a couple of oil lamps. Later, I brought in some firewood and started a blaze in the fireplace and settled back for a peaceful interlude from the mass media’s onslaught.
After a half hour of darkness interrupted by wails of sirens and flashing red lights, I must admit, though, that my mind suddenly drifted to a darker scenario. For more than a moment, I wondered if we had been hit by a terrorist attack.
I joked with Leslie that perhaps we should retreat to the upstairs bathroom and seal the doors with our non-existent duct tape. Of course, if I dug deep enough I knew that I could find duct tape somewhere out in the garage. After all, no handyman, or cross country skier, for that matter, would be without a roll of duct tape for emergency repairs. We laughed lightly then one of us ventured the idea that perhaps it would really be wise to at least have batteries for the emergency radio. It turns out it’s too late to charge the batteries AFTER the lights have gone out.
Of course, we never did retreat to the small bathroom, far too small for the two of us and an oversized, overly rambunctious Australian shepherd sucking up precious air.
Strangely enough, though, when discussing the incident with a fellow worker this moment, she too admitted that the same thought had crossed her and her husband’s mind while they sat in the dark for an hour and a half waiting for the lights to come back on.
I wonder if the terrorists, and the Bush administration for that matter, haven’t won at least a small victory when citizens, even for a moment, fear that they are under attack from terrorists.
Doesn’t such fear translate into a willingness to compromise our values and give up certain freedoms to ensure our own safety in the middle of the night?