Another Different Sort of Action

I reported moving all the money over which I have control out of corporate banks and into a not-for-profit credit union.  It was an action of resistance not much noticed, because of the sums involved; but none of the actions I take even on the streets are much noticed.  I take actions because I do not want to go to my grave having done nothing to resist the wars, torture, and loss of rights that goes on unchecked so far in this country.

I also decided not to travel by air in this country, at least for the time being, in light of the increasingly repressive and invasive nature of “security” for that mode of transportation.  I decided instead to go to Chicago by train.

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Having enjoyed train travel in my childhood and youth in both the US and Europe, I looked forward to the nineteen hours ride.  A friend’s suggestion of a neck pillow, which I would have pooh-poohed in the past, proved to make it possible for me to sleep comfortably.  It was a glorious experience for me, a relaxed and unstressful time.  At breakfast in the dining car, I also had the good fortune to meet novelist Susan Stinson and to enjoy lively discussion with her.

In marked contrast to air travel, we walked onto the train with our baggage, only showing a ticket to a person at the top of the stairs down to the platform in Pennsylvania Station in New York.  No additional identification was required, no questions were asked, no search was made of my person nor of my baggage.  Gosh, it was like living in a free country.  I had a ticket, I got on the train.

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There were videos in the waiting area about “security” not unlike what I had seen in Washington last year this time when I came back to New York via train.  That was offensive enough, but thank goodness that was the extent of the repression.

Word is that the invasive scanners and pat downs are headed for railway stations and bus stations.  News today that increased scrutiny at hotels and shopping malls is being instituted is not good.  I am not deceived by this glorious free experience into believing that it will last.

The invasive technology is, of course, not even reliable.  It is still possible to get explosives and weapons past the machines.  The great value of them to this regime is that Chertov and others with connections to the government are making a fortune on these machines.

When will people in the US bring this to a halt?  When scans from these machines or torturous physical examinations are required to get into the mall?  When actual strip searches are required?  Do we really think that things will stop here?

If we were to refuse this abuse in large numbers, it would stop.  It would not be pretty, but it would eventually stop.  The longer we wait the more violence directed against masses of people who refuse there will be.  Why do we not refuse now?  Why do we wait?

I had an interesting conversation with a young person who is concerned about environment matters and who chooses to do what she can not to contribute to the despoliation of the Earth: she doesn’t use plastic as much as she can, she recycles everything, etc. Another person in the conversation remarked that things we put in recycling bins that are not bought by companies that use them end up in the landfills just as if they were not recycled.  I referenced the views of Chris Hedges, who knows that the problem is systemic, that until there is another economic-political-social system, we will make little headway doing things in piecemeal fashion.   His activism is driven by the knowledge that it is still a good thing to do, whether or not changes for good appear to come about as the result of organized resistance, the acts themselves are valuable to the human race.

I certainly know from personal experience, that it is imperative for me to resist when and as I can.  I am more hopeful than Hedges is that change could come about, though I often despair at the inability of people here to act.  Anyway, I asked this young person why she was not joining with others or organizing as well as taking the individual actions.  I mentioned the fact that activism is neither comfortable nor convenient, but that it is worthwhile to many people and has historically made a difference.  When pressed a little, she actually used the word “uncomfortable.”  Alas, part of the “soft” repression that has gone on in this country for decades, longer than she has been alive, has been to create a culture of comfort. It is bigger than most of us, pervasive.

I was prepared for the inconvenience of a nineteen hour trip and was delightfully surprised at the joys of the actual experience.  I now wonder what I shall do when a train trip also requires violation of my person and abrogation of my rights.  Will I just stay home?  What else will have changed by then?  Anything?

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