Are We Safe Now?

Did TSA really ask a 95-year old wheelchair-bound female leukemia patient to remove her (wet) depends undergarment to make sure she wasn’t carrying a bomb? Do they really pat down small children/toddlers? If so, does that make you feel safer flying? Here’s the deal, Osama Bin Laden, apparently was fixated on airplane terrorism. Two reasons why EVERYONE gets inspected:

  • Exclusion can’t be at the discretion of the inspector, because that introduces the potential argument that the discretion is being abused–racial, religious, sexual, age or other non-rational based profiling
  • The inspector is  a low-level person who is occupationally bound to adhere to rules, to NOT exercise discretion because of the risks above and because it takes more time to figure out who is  in and who is out

Still, despite the appeal to terrorists of airplane terrorism, there  are countless other ways to inflict massive casualties on the populace:

  • Shopping malls, stadiums, hotels, etc. (not so common here but frequently used elsewhere)
  • Subways, trains, cruise ships and other modes of transportation
  • Water supplies, chemical plants, refineries, etc.

How many of them have ANY inspections of persons, belongings or baggage–let alone meaningful checks. Sure, going into government buildings and secure facilities there are metal detectors and checks of belongings, but those are exceptions.

Meanwhile, inspections  before boarding planes gets more and more intrusive. This trend will likely only get worse assuming officials take seriously the notion that is out there now that Al Qaeda or others are researching and considering surgically implanting explosives in suicide bombers. Hey, if they are already willing to die for their cause, what’s the difference whether they are wearing a bomb or ARE a bomb?!

In 13th Century Japan, Nichiren Daishonin said this:

“If you care anything for your personal security, you should first of all pray for order and tranquility throughout the four corners of the land, should you not?” [“On Establishing the  Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol-1, page 24, Soka Gakkai, 1999]

His admonition applies equally well to the 21st Century America. He didn’t advise political or military strategies; he advocated the application of Buddhist prayer–focused daimoku, the chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Not likely a TSA approach of course. Yet, for the all the good that the indignities of intensive searching do for us, the Buddhist approach in the end is the one that will ultimately make the difference. That’s my view. If you don’t share the Buddhist perspective, at least you can offer prayers in the religion you do practice–rather than enduring the situation that now exists. For myself, I plan on using other modes of travel with the possible exception of dire necessity for rapid trips.