These Aren’t the Droids You’re Looking For . . .

Imagine this scenario: You’re heading out of town for a long-anticipated holiday with extended family. The trip requires nine hours in a car so — in spite of what you’ve heard/read about new TSA-sanctioned sexual assaults,  er, bureaucratic intimidations, er, safety screenings —  you opt to fly instead of taking the marathon but exhausting drive.

You arrive at the airport and bypass the ticket agent (being the savvy traveler you are, you’ve printed your boarding pass the night before). You don’t think of yourself as a Zombie, but you feel like one as you take your place in the mile-long, slithering line that edges ever-so-gradually toward the dehumanizing security checkpoint.

Government-issued ID in hand along with your boarding pass, you conduct a last-minute inventory for any incidental metals on your person. Satisfied you’ve done all you can — you’re intentionally wearing flip-flops, no belt, no underwire bra, no watch/necklace/belly ring, etc. — you move forward, reminding yourself to isolate the laptop before placing your bag on the conveyor belt that goes through the scanner.

The last thing you do is breathe a silent prayer. Please God, let me make it through the magnetic scanner without attracting undue scrutiny.

No matter how carefully you’ve planned ahead to avoid attention, the interminable wait in line wears on you. Feeling utterly conspicuous, you engage the internal chat-with-self:  “act naturally.”

God shines His favor temporarily on you, and you sail through the screening … but directly behind you (or just in front of you, it doesn’t matter which), some poor soul has been “randomly selected” and pulled out of line for the cavity search, er, shakedown, er, enhanced (ha!) screening.

What do you do next? You whisper your gratefulness to God, and with all haste, (your gaze safely directed at the floor and your brain refusing to recognize the protestations of the random selectee) you flee the scene for the relative “freedom” of the concourse.

And if, perchance, your gaze strays? Or you have the sudden impulse to respond to the pleas of the (scapegoated) random selectee? Like as not, there’ll be a solicitous TSA agent shooing you away with the hypnotic command of Obi-wan Kenobi:  “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for. Move along.”

And driven by self-interest (or fear?), you will compliantly nod your head in agreement:  “These aren’t the droids we’re looking for.” Look at the people (Zombies?) in TSA videos on YouTube! Read their body language and it generally translates:  Get me out of here!

[Unfortunately, the YouTube video I inserted here in 2020 has vanished from my access.}

Toward the end of the video, there’s an unfortunate young man … he hasn’t yet learned the “rules.” He is so transfixed by the drama (that’s happening mostly off-screen where a woman is being detained and eventually escorted from the airport), he can’t take his gaze away and nearly walks into the foreground sign! Tut, tut, tut. Divert your gaze, young man … these aren’t the droids you’re looking for!

Tomorrow is National Opt-Out Day. For my part, I’m glad not to be traveling, but I can only imagine the indignities (opt-out notwithstanding) that will be perpetrated under the guise of our security and safety.

The Pilgrims endured extreme hardship and spent two months traveling over storm-tossed seas in order to reach this land. Would they be pleased to see how their courage and striving for freedom has been turned inside-out and upside-down?

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