Citizens in training

January 26, 2009

As I step into line at the check point, I gradually begin to feel the heat. It’s the damp heat of too many bodies that no fan can quite break. The line moves, step by step. There is little conversation among the citizens in line. I am thirsty. But we are not permitted water. What may appear to be water  may in fact be alchohol or some other flammable liquid that could be used against the agents of the state, or against the corporations that are its accomplices. The line moves on, step by step.

As I reach the end of the first line, I produce my identification card and my travel paper. One is checked against the other. The agent looks at me, then back to the picture on my identification card, then back to me again before handing them back to me. I step towards the next line.

Sometimes there are dogs who, I am told, can sniff out prohibited items in packages, but not today. Budgets are tight.

As I wait in the second line I look around at others like me. As they approach the conveyer belts to have any packages X-rayed, they must remove any objects that might set off the metal detectors. Shoes come off. Belts come off. Coats are removed. Do I have a pen in my pocket? I remove it for inspection. I must keep my travel document to show the agent once again after I step through the metal detector. The state is taking no chances.

Some must pass through this checkpoint daily, on their way to work. But there is no avoiding the security measures. Often I think about the soldiers, on their way to the front to fight for the state. They too are subject to the new state security measures. They struggle with their boots. They can carry no weapons on their way to the front. Once there, they will be issued what they need by the state. Their documents must also be in order.  Hopefully they have had a drink of water before the checkpoint.

As I pass through, I show my travel document once more to the agent, who motions me through to the area where I may collect my belongings, my shoes, my coat, my pen. I stand with the other citizens clumsily putting shoes back on, coats back on, collecting packages.

Nobody will complain, most of us are used to it by now. And after all, many say, these measures are for our own protection, as citizens. And for the protection of the state, the corporation, and its property. I can remember a time when we did not need such measures. But the memory is fading. Nobody complains. Nobody wants to be escorted aside for ‘secondary screening’. Nobody wants to risk arrest. Nobody wants to feel like an enemy of the state.

***

The short story above is not a fictional work describing a totalitarian regime. The events above take place exactly as described in every airport in the United States of America, every single minute of every single day.

You are being trained by the state.

And the training is going smoothly.

Your silence is your consent.

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