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The recent Raleigh, North Carolina, waste plant fire brought home a sobering truth about modern life. As we go about our days in this modern world, there are hazards and threats, not of our making nor even of our comprehension, that surround us.

The fire at this suburban waste plant released tremendous clouds of potentially deadly chlorine gas. Human contact could cause death or severe injury. Evacuations were required.

I will venture to guess that few, if any, of the people living downwind of this plant on a daily basis gave it much thought. Yet in a moment this seemingly benign industrial location became a deadly time bomb. The fumes released from this waste plant could kill or destroy as quickly and easily as any terrorist threat.

And in our modern world, where people and industry and business and government rub shoulders on a daily basis, the risks that our lives, our health, our well-being can be taken from us in an instant is a reality we have come to live with. Whether malicious, negligent, or simply fortuitous, events such as this one remind us of how fragile our dreams and plans, and indeed our daily lives, really are.

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