A couple of days ago, in the wake of the Paris massacres and the situation in Brussels which has brought the city to a standstill, the United States government issued an alert that will so severely impact travel that it may take years to recover.
They have issued what is defined as a world-wide terror alert.
While they say it is not designed to stop travel, some of what they warn about is obvious, while some of it comes off in such a way that the only place you want to go is into your bed, and stay their indefinitely with the covers pulled over your head.
There is no question that we are living in trying times. With individuals now being recruited to do their worst at any time to anybody, it is fair to say that they could attack a block from your home or mine.
And it does not take a warning to know that we need to be more vigilant to the degree we can, and try to be aware of unusually suspicious things taking place around us.
But the alert raises fears beyond the normal. Be careful in crowded situations. Should I therefore not attend a hockey or football game?
Be careful around public transportation. We have seen buses bombed in Israel, but does it now mean we should not enter a subway, train, or local bus.
Be careful during special occasions and holidays. Should we not go to a Mardi Gras or other similar events?
This alert is meant to last until February 24, 2016. Should I put off my trip to Mexico?
I don’t know how I as an ordinary citizen can spot a terrorist, but if the warning is meant to convince me to try, I am now on alert. But I don’t know if my non-training has the skill set to differentiate between a terrorist and my established vision of what one looks like from photos over the past weeks.
That has dangerous overtones of a different kind.
They have issued these world-wide alerts in the past and we all seem to have accepted them and continued our travels.
The timing of this may be responsible, but with what has been happening in Europe and other countries, I think this will have a more devastating impact on the travel and tourism industries.
Seeing wall to wall television coverage of military and police in France, Belgium, Turkey and other places, however isolated, adds to the fears.
Let us hope that we can see some improvement in the world situation so we feel better about taking these warnings in the spirit I think they are meant to be. But they come at a time when it looks to me like there is a greater chance of overreaction to the fears, bringing about a cessation of plans to book the travel people would otherwise have taken.
I hope I am wrong.