Friday, November 30, 2007

Lessons Learned from 24

I sit here watching Season 3 of 24. I love this show. As I watch I put myself in each of the characters' places and wonder, "What would I do in this situation."

If you're a 24-phile like me, you'll remember the episode in which Jack has to kill his boss in order to prevent the terrorist from releasing a weaponized virus to kill millions of Americans. I'm filled with rage and disgust. One person--or one organization--holds an entire country hostage by threat of violence and/or death. Yes, this is just a story; fiction written to engross the viewers. But, as always, I look for solutions for these not-incredible-enough problems in the real world.

Consider, though, that my rage is not at the characters being manipulated by the terrorist. I want to scream at the TV that it doesn't matter if Jack kills his boss. The terrorist is still a terrorist and can't be trusted except to put himself in a situation which puts the victims at an even worse position. Don't cave. Don't do what the terrorist says. No matter what. No matter what. "Drop the gun or I'll kill him/her." "Oh, okay. I'll drop the gun and watch you blow me and/or him/her away anyway. Great idea." I'm not mad at Jack. I'm not mad at the president.

Let's suppose the terrorist releases the virus. If the president were to saturate the media with orders to the citizens to stay in their homes, that should take care of the problem, right? I mean with the population holing up in their homes, exposure and therefore deaths would be minimized, right? Terrorists don't get their way, except for the few who might catch just the wrong waft of a breeze, casualties minimized, life goes on, right? Wrong. American citizens are morons. They're sheep. They're dumb, panicky idiots, self-absorbed and selfish, without the sense or cajones to protect themselves. Worse, they lack the sense or benevolence--they lack the integrity and courage--to protect others. Should such an order come from the president, we all know what would happen. People would rebel, they'd think they knew better than the president. "We're not the president's slaves! We have rights!" They'd go out, get infected, infect their loved ones and others, and as they die a horrible death, as they watch their loved ones die because of their stupidity, they curse God and the president for putting them in that situation.

Perhaps I'm being prejudiced. But I look around and I I see our behavior. I see our predilections, and I weep for when a terrorist attack hits us in the Homeland.

Harsh? Yes. Am I overlooking those who don't fit this profile? Sure. But do those who would show the integrity, the will, the courage to do what's necessary actually be able to do it? Or have we seen one too many gun lain down on TV at the behest of an actor-terrorist? Can we override our programming that there are certain things that are socially unacceptable and therefore should never be done? Can we step up and do the hard thing for the right reason? Even if it's as benign as staying in our homes to minimize the damage of a terrorist attack? Even if it's as harsh as blowing away the bad guy...after he's followed through with his promise?

I love this show....

Monday, November 12, 2007

Eaten Alive by Plenty

We pay entertainers insane amounts of money and watch our teachers starve.

We pay athletes sickening amounts of money and watch our police officers barely survive.

We give politicians and lobbyists ridiculous amounts of money and allow the fine men and women in our armed services to live and die in terrible circumstances with barely a sincere nod.

We take and take and find other opportunities to take with only the slightest pretend acknowledgment given to those who supply us with what we're taking.

We consume and burn and pollute and only now we pretend to care about what we're doing to the earth that gives us our very lives--because now it's popular to care.

We read the writing on the wall and believe the earth is on the fast track for destruction. Call it God's wrath, call it man's stupidity and selfishness, call it the devil's last stand. Call it what you will, only we have the ability to change. We change us, we change the world. But when even our concern for others is born of a need to be richer; more popular; more revered; more than someone else, you can bet we will fail. And we will deserve it.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Wrong Even When Right

The kids' school bus was late again this morning. Fourth time in as many weeks. Kids standing out in freezing temperatures for 45 minutes. Of course, this on the very morning my wife and I got into an argument wherein I said it doesn't matter if they don't wear heavy coats; they'll learn to dress warm if they get a little bit cold. As it turns out, "a little bit cold" ended up being, "Mom, I think I got frost bite. My fingers hurt really bad."

Once again I forgot to consider the mistakes of others in my calculations. And of course, chalk one up for the wife. You know, because she needs another one chalked up.