8 years ago
A note to kind readers: This blog is both more and less than a blog; it hardly does justice to an exciting confluence of events in Toronto, conferences on non-violence, trainings in non-violence and a non-violent Occupation of Toronto; and it exceeds anyone’s idea of a blog in length. If the excerpt below intrigues, read on!
Confronting Global Crises: A Non-violent Perspective : Keynote Address
Taking our fear for a walk: The role of critical consciousness in confronting global crises
A conversation overheard in an airport recently:
Please take off your shoes.
The airport staff person looks quizzically at the woman in front of him. ‘Why?!’ Wonder what cave you’ve been living in. Don’t fly much? Strange, she looks reasonably intelligent; should I bother to tell her about the shoe bomber? No; too many people in the queue.
He resorts to the tried and true: ‘It’s the rules.’
‘Oh!! That explains everything now doesn’t it.’
The dreaded beeping sound indicates that I must be hiding something.
‘Why did that go off?’ I want to know. ‘You must have something in your pockets or somewhere.’ A woman in the ubiquitous gray uniform of airport security approaches me with her hands up – about here – and I say, ‘what are you doing?’
I will need to search you.
Because the machine beeped.
Why did the machine beep?
Because you must have something on you.
‘Then let’s see, shall we?’ I turn my pockets inside out, roll up my pant legs and turn around. Nothing suspicious. ‘I’ll go through the security portal once more just to be sure.’
Because you beeped.
But why did I beep?
Because you must have something on you. So I have to search you.
But there’s nothing on me. Do you not have a wand?
I’ll search you over there in that little booth if you want privacy.
No; if you’re going to do this, you will do it right here in front of everyone. But you have no right to touch me.
She summons the manager who towers over me, asking me menacingly if I would like to get home today.
I lose. I raise my arms, submit to the probing hands; yes, I do want to get home. It’s been a long month and I need to get home.
In the course of one day’s travel, there have been CCTV, iris scanners and whole-body sound waves, random selections and pat-downs, baggage searches, wands and x-rays; checks conducted on your laptop, your water bottle, your toothpaste tube, your child’s stuffy, dummy and formula, and – did I mention? – your shoes? As you get dressed, belt, shoes, jacket, vest, fanny pack, fold up your laptop, pocket your mobile, collect up all of your belongings that have been dumped into plastic boxes for an additional run through the security gadgets, and look yearningly into the bin where your best tube of lipstick and your favourite moisturiser now languish, it’s difficult to think deep thoughts.
Fear sells; fear invades, colonises our minds, takes over, shape-shifting and shifting shapes, ordering us into boxes and lines, kneading the defiance in us into compliance and we hardly notice. Like sheep to the slaughter, we adapt to the new normal, repeat the aphorisms we’ve been told about bombers and terrorists and security and how law-abiding people have nothing to worry about.
Fear is an industry that begets more of the same. It generates the production of neuro-transmitters whose job it is to prepare us for fight or flight. And it generates profits. The creation ex nihilo of the Department of Homeland Security, its equipping, staffing and implementation of DHS projects in thousands of locations in the United States approaches $1 trillion dollars. Somebody is making stunning quantities of money. But, as its website assures us: Homeland Security: Preserving our Freedoms.