Traveling through Dallas yesterday, I was reminded of how different air travel was before the 9/11 of 2001.
I didn’t need to plan on arriving “at least” an hour-and-a-half before my flight, I would have laughed at the idea of carrying toiletries in a one gallon plastic bag and howled at a restriction on the size of…a tube of toothpaste?
Today, those restrictions are in place.
And sarcastic observations aside, they weren’t created simply to irritate me. They were initiated as measures to prevent anyone else turning an airplane into a gigantic improvised explosive device.
And as inconvenient as they are, it seems to have worked.
But drastic measures don’t always work. Because rules only work if people agree to follow them.
The same people who howl for more regulations against gun ownership, ammunition sales, plastic straws and sugary soft drinks think nothing of hopping into their cars and ignoring speed limits.
Clearly, there’s far more potential for immediate tragedy driving 80 miles an hour on the interstate while texting or watching YouTube videos, but the consequences don’t reflect that.
Having traveled in parts of the world where speeding laws are enforced, and the fines regulated by the value of the automobile (a speeding ticket in a luxury car can mean minimum fine of $2,500), I know driving habits aren’t irreversible.
Consequences can influence actions.
That does not mean I’m advocating jail time for littering, caning for public intoxication or anything like that. What it does mean is that we need to consider what we’re trying to accomplish before passing regulations that sound good, but don’t accomplish anything.
As the old expression goes, make the juice worth the squeeze.
When air travel was suspended indefinitely following the 9/11 attacks, no one looked at that as a horrific inconvenience; it was a prudent measure to meet an unexpected challenge.
We didn’t complain, we adapted.
Curfews following catastrophes don’t cause uproars, because the only people inconvenienced by them are lawbreakers. Good people aren’t out rooting through disaster sites, they’re helping survivors cope or they’re home in bed.
I’m traveling this week with little thought to what could happen whenever I take to the highway, climb aboard an airliner, or walk into a hunting field with a loaded gun.
Not because I’m blithely skipping through life without any thought of what might happen- or because I believe the rules by themselves will keep me safe.
I travel because I consider my actions and believe the vast majority others do the same.
Most drivers pay attention, few pilots are suicidal, and anyone I choose to go afield with is expected understand -and follow-the basic rules of firearms safety.
It’s common things that keep us safe in all but those uncommon times.
Extraordinary measures should be reserved for extraordinary circumstances.
Unless and until average people like me prove themselves incapable of acting sensibly, let’s work to keep it that way.
Today’s a solemn anniversary, and it should be a time for reflection on what we’ve learned since the event, not just remembrance.
Evil hasn’t changed. Neither should the consequences for evildoers.
As we reflect on what happened on this date in 2001, we should never forget the innocent people who died. Neither should we ever forget the guilty who killed them.