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Wednesday, November 21, 2001

I won't be flying anywhere this holiday weekend, but it's not because I'm afraid. We have so many levels of security at the airports now that it's a miracle if any plane ever gets off the ground. If I had anywhere I had to fly to, I'd brave the crowds and the delays, but I'd do it with a big chip on my shoulder. In trying to make flying perfectly safe, we're in the process of making it perfectly unbearable.

Soon every piece of luggage will be inspected. That's comforting, because it'll put an end to the rash of bombs that have been exploding in luggage compartments. And of course I'm happy that the screeners will all be American citizens, because real Americans never do a shoddy job, or look the other way, or take bribes. Only foreigners do that. They come to this country in droves, just to earn minimum wage at airports letting people smuggle nail clippers on board.

Hold on. I'm not saying we can't do better than we did on September 11. I'm just saying paranoia is too easy an excuse to lapse into "round up the usual suspects" mode. Just because there's a cobweb in the corner doesn't mean we have to rip out the whole wall. We're rushing into solutions before we're even sure what the problem is. That's pretty convenient for those who wanted to rip out walls before there were even any spiders.

This weekend I'm going somewhere that takes less time to drive to than it would to stand in a "speed-through check-in" line waiting to be scanned. So I won't be flying. (I won't be driving, either, just riding in the back seat getting three hours of sweet, motion-induced sleep. Either that, or singing along with the oldies on KFRC until we get out of range. I know four people who will be thankful if I sleep.)

And I was really looking forward to flying into Reagan National Airport in Washington so I could tour the White House. Now my dream holiday vacation is ruined. I guess the terrorists win. Maybe next year I'll fly somewhere just because I feel like it, whether I have anywhere to go or not. That'll show 'em.

We don't need a holiday to remind us to be grateful this year. We've been reminded of the good things we have, reminded in the starkest manner by seeing it all threatened.

We have the freedom that abundance allows, and the abundance that freedom brings. We have a giving nature, brought out even more when we see others in need. We've shown that if we can help, we will, and if we need help, there's hope that we can get it.

We've learned more than we wanted to know this year about how dangerous it can be to live in this world. Every day, all around the world, people face hunger, disease, fear and oppression.

Whatever we do to help can never be too much, but anything we do to alleviate the suffering and hardship — in the most remote place on the planet, or in our own towns and cities — is a way of recognizing that we are all one people, one family.

The observance of a day of thanksgiving began in that spirit of folks from different backgrounds coming together to share. As the world grows perceptibly smaller, our need to accept and embrace one another grows greater.


The western sky, late afternoon, with fence posts and phone poles.

Be that as it may, my family and I will be safely tucked away for the next four days on a houseboat in the middle of a lake, where no one can get at us and steal our turkey. You probably shouldn't expect anything new in this space before Monday. If that's not specific enough, you could join the notify list, and I'll send you an email when entries resume. In any case, my Thanksgiving wish is that everyone could have as much to be thankful for as I do.

And you have my thanks for visiting with me.

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