Security, and Lack Thereof

As some of you may know, I’m flying to the United States in a week. I’m extremely eager for this trip, which, of course, makes the time move all the slower. I’ve been obsessing, planning and re-planning, mentally packing and making lists for days now – and with all that came the comparisons between here and NOT here. In musing about the differences between a country fraught with chaos, namely Israel, and a country fraught with a different sort of chaos, namely the US, I stumbled upon a very small but fundamental difference between the places. It’s something I almost never remember until I’m actually in the US.

When most of you walk into a grocery store, a theater, a mall, a cafe or any other public place – you just walk in. You open the door, and walk in. Here, it is not so. Here, there will be a guard. There is always a guard. There will forever be a guard. No matter what public place you enter here, you will have to surrender your bag, purse or back-pack to a guard’s cursory glance, their hands feeling inside it or weighing it to see how heavy it is. In places like the Jerusalem Central Bus Station, you’ll have to go so far as to pass your things through a metal detector. At the entrance to most malls, you yourself have to go through a metal-detector.

After being used to handing over your belongings everywhere you go, I’m always struck by how odd it feels in the US, or anywhere else for that matter, where you don’t have to do that. You can just… walk in. Incredible.

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6 thoughts on “Security, and Lack Thereof

  1. You can thank our founding fathers for that. They all came from different backgrounds, different value, different religious beliefs. But they all knew that America needed to be a place where anyone could practice freedom-of-almost-anything so long as it didn’t impinge on the rights of others or their rights to do so.

    For those of you keeping score, I am not saying the U.S. is perfect in every way, nor has it historically treated every denizen properly.

    Point is, we have people from all walks of life and just about any belief system you can think of. At the very least, we tolerate one another; but at our best we respect one another’s rights. Sure, we squabble and argue, but we don’t have the built up animosity that the Middle East has.

    Since our inception we’ve tried to head that off, and while we’re far from perfect the fact that you draw such a vivid differentiation between the two cultures serves to underscore that the Fathers were pointed in the right direction.

    J.W. Nicklaus

  2. That was very well said J.W. This is my learned thing for today. I didn’t know this about the guards. How unsettling that would be to me. To have some stranger going through my things…..I can’t even fathom. It makes you feel like criminals. Where is the trust? Obviously there isn’t any but how can you live that way? It boggles my mind. There is plenty going on here in the US but we have basic trust in our neighbors. WOW!

    Will you still keep in touch while your on your trip? Are you just going to NY or are you also going to visit LA?

  3. @Joy – it’s less about privacy, more about security. Or that’s how we’re meant to see it. We’re supposed to feel protected, and not worry about having a suicide-bomber dash into the store when we’re buying groceries or whatever, because of course the security guard will want to risk his life and stop the bomber with his own living body and soul. Sometimes it’s really easy to hate where I live.

    In answer to your question – luckily, my mom decided she’s taking her laptop with her to the US, and so I hope VERY much to keep in touch while I’m gone! I’m going to be visiting LA, Boston, NY and Chicago, with a possible trip to Rhode Island somewhere in the middle there! I’m extremely excited :).

  4. chloë says:

    a week that went fast 🙂
    will you take some photographs to share with us when you return from your journey (?) x

  5. nievebonita says:

    Wow, this is very interesting! I’m in the states, and had no idea that how it is over there.

    I saw you on little red writers blog. Just wanted to stop in and say I enjoyed your post. Have fun on your visit to the US! 🙂

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