I laughed a little yesterday. I cried a lot, but I laughed a little. Something my daughter said to me in the car made me laugh, and I noticed it right away. It was the first time I’d laughed in nearly a week. Little by little, we’re getting our lives back. Not back to what they were, but back under our control.
Our whole concept of “normal” has to change. More awareness, more diligence regarding our personal security. Because of our spot on the globe, we’ve enjoyed a society and lifestyle that no other country on earth has experienced. We don’t walk around wondering who the enemy might be, or what harm might come to us, or the people around us. This amazes people from other countries. Because world wars and terrorist acts have happened in their backyard, Europeans, Africans, Asians and Middle Easterners are all much more security conscious than Americans. They come here and marvel at the freedoms we not only give our own citizens but what we allow visitors as well.
We’ve always known we were vulnerable to attack. Not by conventional weapons of war, but to suicide fanatics willing to harm innocent bystanders. We just didn’t believe people would be willing to be so barbaric, so evil in their thinking and actions. Now we know. We know what the Israelis, the Germans, the English and others have known for some time. We’re vulnerable and now we’re a target.
If you’ve ever traveled in Europe, you know a public military presence is part of every day life. I’ve been in a German airport where soldiers were spaced every twenty feet or so with sub-machine guns. Checking into a flight in Frankfurt, I was pulled out of line and taken to a back room. It seems I fit the profile of troublemakers according to the Germans.
While traveling in Europe, I had grown a beard, acquired a Greek fisherman’s cap and was wearing a leather jacket and khakis. The German security was very firm, polite, but no-nonsense as they patted me down, questioned me under armed guard and ran a high-tech metal detector over my body. When they let me onto the aircraft, they then made me get off, and identify my luggage that they had spread out on the tarmac. Was it racial profiling? Absolutely. I fit the stereotype. I was similarly questioned when I returned to the States. Did I mind? No, in fact, I was pretty pleased at the tightened security, knowing they were making it difficult for the actual “evil-doers.” It wasn’t as convenient, but that’s a small price to pay. Without suspending everybody’s civil liberties, we’re going to have to be more mindful of who’s around. If you look the part, you can expect to be questioned.
We’re going to have to get used to that as Americans. Going to sporting events will be a little less easy. Last year at the Super Bowl, security officials used a face recognition program for fans entering at each gate. Metal detectors were stationed at every entrance. It might become part of the regular fan experience. And that’s OK.