It’s been said that you should never talk about sex, religion or politics in social situations and there’s a very good reason why. You may not like what some people think. On ships, we rarely talk about anything that contentious. Conversations mainly revolve around food, alcohol and crew gossip. All that matters is what happens within the ship eco-system.
Occasionally, something with global impact like a war or natural disaster will result in some fleeting interest. But for the most part, this only reaffirms the security of living in the ship ecosystem. The real world seems like a strange, violent alternate reality in comparison. I blame journalists but it’s possible we’ve just become institutionalized.
Earlier this week, we heard the news of Osama/Usama bin Laden being killed. We reacted in the only way we knew how: we got drunk on American beer and ate tacos. It was a huge celebration which seemed both comforting and morbid. And also a bit shocking as some people exposed their prejudices and joked that it was too bad that it wasn’t President Obama who was dead. Their own president!
After 10 years of living in a post 9/11 world, everyone has been affected in some way, not just Americans. We’ve since suffered terrorist attacks in London, Bali, Madrid, Mumbai, etc. Muslims have been vilified after a small group have hijacked their religion. Politicians have been granted license to establish shock doctrines. Citizens of the world have sacrified personal freedoms. Travelers have had to endure far more intrusive security checks. If you have brown skin, some people think “Taliban“. We now live in a less human-friendly world where the ends justifies the means.
When I first flew into NYC in 2004, I packed a bible just in case I was racially profiled. I was living in London in 2005, at the time of the 7/7 attack and was embarrassed that I had to assure people that I wasn’t a muslim. These days, anytime I fly I’m accustomed to being felt up by men in uniforms. Seriously, early last year in Toronto this security guy actually felt my balls. I blurted out “Hey, buy me a drink first”. He didn’t think it was funny. I don’t think men feeling my balls is funny either. They could at least give you the option of being patted down by a female. Global security can be fun too.
I seem to often be “randomly selected” for extra checks. Like when I was detained in Victoria and interrogated. Or when I had to go through a metal detector, body scanner and be patted down after that. I think I prefer having a man feel my balls than get cancer from those body scanners.
That’s why the assignation of the leader of Al-Qaeda is celebrated. Not because killing is the answer. I’m sure most people would have rather he be captured and held accountable for the crimes he has committed. But at the very least, it feels like this may be the tipping point in the world’s war on terror. I just hope we are able to retain our humanity by the end of it all.