I remember once my brother told me that the older you get the faster time seems to go by. I have been gone 21 days and with the blink of an eye I am back here in Italy again. Perhaps the fact that I have been on 10 planes in such a short time period has a lot to do with it.
Travelling used to be an adventure, and in some ways it still can be, but more and more, it has become an invasion of privacy, more expensive and a nuisance. After 9/11 the world changed. After Dec. 25/09, the world changed again. Every person waiting at the airport was suspicious to me. If I could avoid travelling to the U.S. my life would be so much better, but this is not an option for me.
Today, I saw a guy strip down to his jockey shorts in front of hundreds of people at the security check. I’m not sure if it was voluntary, but I am pretty sure it was, and I applaud his efforts. The freedom that North Americans boast about has already been robbed from us from the acts of terrorism. And in some faces you can see the paranoia rise as we embark our planes. It’s a pretty bold move to strip down to your underwear in front of strangers at an airport and years ago he would have been arrested for indecent exposure. But not now, now he is facing all of our fear with his own brand of “here I am, I am not afraid of you and I will prove to you here and now that I have nothing to hide from the world”.
Are these new rules pushing the boundaries of our privacy? You bet. It really irks me when I know someone has opened my luggage and rummaged through my personal belongings with no respect for them (I’ve often had things missing after such searches too). If you have ever had something stolen before then you will know what I am talking about. It’s not just the fact that you have to replace what was stolen, it’s the emotional toll of feeling vulnerable and violated. As a Nation, we are feeling vulnerable and violated not just by the terrorists but by our own systems that are meant to protect us.
But what’s more important to hold onto in life: Our Privacy or our Freedom? And if we relinquish our privacy to the world is that the same thing as relinquishing our freedom?
If Americans were not such an obese, Burger King society, I would recommend that we all fly naked with no luggage. Buy what you need when you get there and think of it as your personal contribution to keeping the global economy going. But we are well past the 1960’s free love era and I’m not sure if I could stomach the nakedness of my fellow flyers. However, if the airlines just went back to the good old days of handing out those free mini bottles of Vodka I am pretty sure I could get over it : )