The thoughts of many return to the tsunami in South East Asia that happened just after Christmas day last year. That reminded us that cataclysms beyond human control can happen.
So besides terrorism now we have something new to be scared of - the bird flu.
One sensible pundit - Ted Koppel - said today on "Meet the Press" that people should be prepared with food and supplies to stay home for 3 weeks in case of an outbreak. That would minimize their exposure and spread of the epidemic. He said it is right to alarm people, and that is the role of the media.
I agree - alarm but not scare. People when scared respond irrationally - from banning smoking in every building in Seattle to sending armies to remote places to beat others up preemptively. Properly alarmed, reasonably instructed and materially enabled people are the basis of any defensive posture in a society. Alas there is more political gain in sowing fear.