When I hear a loud bang outside my window, I flinch. When I see a low-flying airplane in the sky, I watch it with suspicious eyes. When I fly, I subject the people sitting next to me to a critical inspection, and I always carry a gun with me on the plane. Yes, you read that right, I carry a gun with me. A legal weapon. I always have a baseball in my hand luggage, a present from Rudy Giuliani when we were filming TV Nation in New York. The baseball is signed by all players of the New York Yankees of the 1994 season. Should any villain try to break open the cockpit door, I think I could give him a pretty good hard ball at around 80 things an hour. (Even when tucked into a sock, a baseball has an astonishingly powerful effect; take a break and bang! – a knockout hit directly on the head!) And don’t forget, shoelaces; Wrapped around your thumbs, they make a pretty useful choke device once you’ve wrapped them around the bastard’s neck. Whatever is available and tangible right now, I will definitely not go down without a fight. -139-
You see, it got me too. But it probably can’t be any different if you’ve worked with someone who was on board one of these machines and knew them well. How did it get this far with me little old pacifist? Hell, I’m scared, just like everyone else. Fear, at least the rational variant, is an important part of our ability to survive. Registering real danger and reacting accordingly is an instinct that has served our species well for many millennia. Irrational fear, on the other hand, is a killer. It makes our survival compass spin. She lets you pick up a gun if you hear a noise in the middle of the night (and then out of fear you shoot your wife who has pounded to the bathroom in the dark). Fear makes us unwilling to live with someone of a different race. And it makes us willingly give up the civil liberties that we have enjoyed for over 200 years just because our “leaders” tell us something about a “terrorist threat.” Fear is such a central and at the same time so easily manipulated feeling that it has become our best friend and at the same time our worst enemy. And when used as a weapon against us, it can destroy much of what we love about our lives in the United States.