Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Erosion of Trust

Some months back my wife and I were talking about taking a trip to visit our grandkids. We would have to fly. The federal government had just started putting people through those machines that spray you with radiation to see under your clothes. I threatened I would strip down naked so they could see I wasn't concealing anything, rather than go through those awful, humiliating and depersonalizing machines. We've flown several times since the threat. I haven't been confronted with one of those machines and will probably just refuse it rather than strip. My wife claims I'm too modest to answer the telephone naked.

Anyway, that invasion of personal space makes me angry; as does the nonsense of always taking off your shoes. All of this depersonalization is because of two deranged and violence prone individuals, the "underwear bomber" and the "shoe bomber." Two individuals effectively destroyed the natural trust in the human community so everyone, millions of people, must remove their clothes and shoes in obeisance to their memory. Talk about honoring false Gods!

I've met several people who are deeply committed to nonviolence. They have demonstrated their commitment in the face of threats and death. I expect they would die rather than betray their vow of nonviolence. However, governments and airlines are not basing their policies on the actions of these individuals. Why not? It seems as logical as basing policies on the actions of the deranged and violence prone.

A government might say that the shoe bomber and underwear bomber were members of a group committed to acts of terror. They were part of a larger conspiracy. Governments have to develop policies and procedures that take this conspiracy into account. Of course, there is also an organized nonviolent movement on the planet. It is worldwide and strives to fulfill the aspirations of almost all the world's people. Why not institute policies and procedures that are humanizing and personalizing, that make use of nonviolent strategies to resist those who might choose terror?

There were Indian terrorists in the time of Gandhi. They were causing destruction in England. Gandhi met with them. He discovered they were basing their terrorism on sacred literature, which Gandhi read quite differently. When he returned to India he wrote extensively about how the tradition could not appropriately be used to support terrorism. Why aren't we encouraging and supporting those religious voices who recognize the abuse of faith?

There are those who profit from an erosion of trust. It ranges from the makers of so called security systems in your homes to X-ray machines in the airports to nuclear weapons in the belly of a B1 bomber. "Don't trust your neighbor," they say! "Don't trust the 'other,'" they say. "Don't trust! Let us make you secure."

Living nonviolence is trusting. Trust is subversive to the security state, with all of its tentacles. Trust starts with knowing our neighbors, reaching out to the "other," and saying no to those efforts to make us all afraid, but "safe" in the hands of big brother.

Carl Kline

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