I knew the world hadn't ended overnight when I turned on CNN this morning and they were showing a commercial. Nobody's going to be buying a Lexus to drive to the final conflagration. We won't be buying the ultimate holiday CD collection to play in our nonexistent Lexus. If they're selling something, we must not be in panic mode.
It turns out we came pretty close, though. The suicide bombers in Israel and the Israeli retaliation (how do they know?) have shot a few more holes in the fantasy of Middle Eastern stability. It took a lot of knavery and thuggery to create the nation of Israel, and it's taken persistent violence to defend it for over fifty years. They can't be surprised that desperate Palestinians are themselves using desperate tactics. There's apparently no way out except to let the blood flow, since neither side cares to reason its way toward a solution.
It must be hard for world leaders to know how to react, since both sides are wrong, and yet both sides are right. They may be knaves and thugs, but they're passionate in defense of their lands and peoples. The partisan nations of the world have already aligned themselves, and the chance of anyone listening to anyone else is bleak at best. Whatever satisfaction they get from all the killing doesn't seem to be getting them any closer to a solution.
The easiest thing would be to turn our backs on the whole mess, if that were possible. If the world weren't so small, if we didn't all need each other in one way or another, we could let them work out their grievances in whatever manner they chose. But we have to pay attention, at least, if only to be ready when the spillover reaches us. We've been surprised enough already this year. It should have taught us the value of vigilance. Looking back over your shoulder is as prudent on a global level as it is when you're walking down a dark street.