Accepting Chaos

By Chris, the Knower of All Things *


You know why religion exists?  It’s because people can’t take chaos.  It’s like the first man (creationists will back this; woman came later) said “I can’t hack this randomness.  There must be a plan!”  So he created a plan, claimed no responsibility for any aspect of it, ascribed all planning to a non-existent man-in-the-sky, and felt much, much better, because now, when small, helpless innocent children met horrible fates at the whim of fire or beast he could say, “It’s all part of the plan.  The Master moves in mysterious ways.”

Chaos is life.  Life is chaos.  No one is really responsible in the big picture.  Even though individuals are certainly responsible for their own actions, what happens in the large view is simply a progression of events.  Whole societies swing on trends.  We have trended into an era for which we have been well prepared.  We believe God has a plan for us.  We believe we are the chosen.  We hate the others.  We’ve been practicing our hates on Blacks, Whites, Jews, Nazis, Japs, Chinks and Ragheads.  They, and other theys, are responsible for everything bad we have had to deal with.  We are ready to sacrifice.  The Greatest Generation sacrificed gasoline, food, metals and nylon stockings.  We are prepared to give up privacy, the right to assemble, the right to bear arms, the right to think and speak our minds.  We want to be the Safest Generation.  It’s all going to work out because our government has a plan for us.  We’ll go along, and when it’s all over and the enemy has been defeated, we will restore all that was missing. The way our parents got gasoline and nylons back in quantity, we will restore all the rights and privileges of the free American citizen.  But, will our Lent really ever end?

On my way to work at NBC radio in 1972, I was outraged to discover video cameras mounted to the outside of the McGraw-Hill building on Sixth Avenue.  The camera followed me as I walked past, probably guided by a bored operator at the security desk inside, amusing himself until his shift ended at 6 AM.  In less than a minute I flashed on every security use of video we have now known right up to “Person of Interest”.   I mentioned my outrage, didn’t I?  I thought then that we needed to force them to remove the cameras.  What I didn’t expect was that the WNBC news director and the newsman, Charles McCord as a matter of fact, found nothing outrageous or even out of place.  They thought it was a good idea . . . for security.

The most secure banks have been robbed.  The most secure borders have been breached.  No one is surrounded by more security than our president, like Kennedy, or Reagan, but the bullets get through.  Are you ever any more secure than you are in your own bed?  What chance is there that a sinkhole could open up under you and swallow you whole?  Who will protect us and make us secure when the ever awaited giant asteroid finally plummets toward earth?

There is no security.  Ever.  Anywhere.  Chaos reigns supreme, and yet, we keep living a lie, giving up a piece of our lives every day with every new proof of the rule of chaos.  Like an addict, we choose to not believe in reality, but instead reach for yet another dose of fantasy in a futile attempt to block out the truth.

I flew to Dallas on an American 727.  I arrived, checked my luggage, walked on the plane and found my seat.  It was a fine flight and included breakfast and a big coffee.  I did not go through a checkpoint where my luggage, my carry-on and my body were opened, examined and searched.  I also was not carrying a bomb that the examiners would miss in their search.  I felt pretty secure, even hurtling through the air at five or six hundred miles per hour.  Feeling secure was what it all was about, of course, because I was anything but secure.  How crazy to fly, and so fast, and so high up!  But in 1966, the only terror was in the take-off.  After that, it was easy.

Understand what terrorism accomplishes.  It is not about your unbridled fear that you are about to die.  It is about your reaction to provocation, your need to seek comfort in bureaucracy, your excessively civilized response to violence.  In order to prevent further attacks, you enact greater restriction upon yourself.  You must be searched, lest a weapon be snuck into an event or onto a plane.  The 9/11 hijackers never went through the security checkpoints that were already in place.  They snuck onto the jet way from a runway door.  The shoe bomber was discovered on the plane, by the passengers.  Test bombs have passed through during system checks by the TSA.  There is no security.

The TSA is not doing anything of value.  Never mind the individuals working in the system.  Some are jerks on a power high, many are perfectly nice people trying to do a job.  The organization is a failure.  It has cost a fortune and only exists to create a false impression of safety and security.  We are paying for it.  You are paying for it.  It has cost you in greater ways because the personal shoeless inspections have taught you to be a suspect and to feel vaguely guilty.  You brought too much mouthwash, the plastic bag you used is larger than quart size, you are trying to sneak foods onto the aircraft.  Guilty, criminal behavior extracted from silly human acts.  Where goes your pride?  Is your self-esteem intact?  Well, put your shoes back on.  Now.  Here.

Here’s an idea.  Disband TSA.  Here’s another, unhook all those cameras from centralized control.  They are centralized.  The Suffolk County Emergency Preparedness Command Center on Long Island has traffic cams, private and public security cameras, even ATM cams, all tied to a central control panel.  We lived happily without this before.  We can again. We need our privacy back.  We need our rights.  We traded them for security, but we never took delivery, so we’d like the payment back.

* A good friend of mine, also named Chris, dubbed me Chris, the Knower of All Things for my annoying habit of having an opinion on any subject and being able to back it up with facts and factoids in abundance.  None of this should be taken to mean that I am right about everything or anything.  Feel free to challenge anything I say.