I had the honor of giving Jason and his
teammates harem a ride from the finish line of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day at Petco Park in San Diego to where their cars were parked at Del Mar Fairgrounds.
On the morning of the last day of the 3-Day, I offered to meet Jason and team at their campsite in Mission Bay to pick up their gear ahead of time so they wouldn’t have to deal with it later. I was listening to NPR on the way. The program on the air was a panel discussion about the new TSA body-scanning and pat-down procedures. Callers and panelists were discussing their experiences and sharing their views. The topics included terrorism, personal freedom versus public protection, government intrusion into individual rights, and the particularly sensitive issues that scanning and pat downs raise for survivors of sexual abuse. In all, much of the discussion revolved around the darker side of some of our human shortcomings, and I was feeling a little sad as I thought about these things.
And then I pulled into Mission Bay and saw a sea of pink tents, men and women dressed in pink, people who had just walked forty miles in the rain hugging each other, and signs with the names of those who had either survived or had valiantly fought and lost their battles with breast cancer. The collective spirit and love washed over and around me in such a palpable way that I began to cry. I looked ahead and saw Jason and his team waving and smiling from ear-to-ear as my car approached them. I got out and they were all hugging and thanking me for picking up their gear, and I was all, “Dudes. I drove here in a warm, dry car. You guys just walked forty miles in the rain and are about to do twenty more. Thank YOU!” I asked how they were holding up and not one of them complained; in fact, they cheerily responded, “GREAT!” There is so much love in this world. So. Much. Love. You can see it and feel it, especially when so much of it is gathered in one place. And sometimes it’s wearing pink.
Later that day, I watched Jason, his teammates, and 4,000 others walk into Petco Park. After a sixty-mile, three-day journey, every last one of those people was smiling as they walked by. Some of them had plastic bags stuffed into their shoes because of the rain, but those people were smiling too. Some of them were dancing. Others were jumping up and down. Some were doing a conga line into the park. I was crying. During the closing ceremony it was announced that the 4,000 participants of the San Diego 3-Day raised over ten million dollars. I heard that and was awash with hope and joy. When some of us fall, many more will do the work to lift each other up. I also came away with a new rule that I think is best shared: Whenever the opportunity arises for us to be in the presence of a collective consciousness of such power and goodness, we should put ourselves in the midst of it. It cannot help but remind us that we are blessed people.
I’m going to get on an airplane over Thanksgiving weekend. Having a law degree, I am aware of my legal rights as they pertain to a full body scan and pat down search. As a survivor of sexual abuse, I am sensitive to how a full body scan and pat down will feel to me, how just thinking about it feels to me. As I approach the airport security checkpoint, I will be mindful and protective with regard to boundaries for my daughter and me, and I have talked about all of it with her. I don’t have to get on an airplane. Nobody is making me go through the checkpoint. (I am also aware that others who travel for work or other reasons may have no choice, and the increased measures may mean something different to them. I respect that fully.)
As for me, I am traveling by air willingly, and in so doing I will treat the TSA agents with the respect and dignity that I want from them. I appreciate that we live in a place where we can talk about these issues and work together to make things better. I think right now the vast majority of us are simply trying to figure out how to balance air travel safety with our treasured personal freedom. Although I am aware that there is always potential for abuse in any system, I will be mindful of and watch for this potential. I can be patient with the process and keep my eye on the prize, which is a travel experience that is as safe on the ground as I can make it and as safe in the air as TSA can make it. This holiday weekend I will be grateful that I had the choice to travel by air to be with family. It is Thanksgiving after all.