Had Dante Alighieri written his epic Divine Comedy today, there would be a tenth circle of hell in which the final and most fearful ring would be airports. I cannot imagine a fate worse than that which befell those lost souls attempting to get out of Chicago last weekend.
Standing in an eternal line amidst a mass of desperate travelers as you watch any hope of escape fade like the color from your fellow flyers’ faces, has got to be the very definition of damnation.
Since I’m sure you’ve already read the news stories, suffice it to say that one disgruntled Aurora Air Traffic Center employee just wreaked the kind of national air traffic havoc that the best international terrorist could only dream of.
We don’t have the final word yet, but we do know this “gentleman” wasn’t too happy with some recent staff shakeups and decided to take facility and himself down with it. Luckily, he wasn’t completely successful with either endeavor, though I’m sure the flyers who fear ever having to see the word “canceled” again wouldn’t describe themselves as “lucky.”
But there is a lesson we can take away from this massive misfortune and that message is that this was yet another inside job. There was no terrorist sleeper cell, no Hydra-esque conspiracy to render us as compliant as sheep, and no foreign government intelligence agency doing their damndest to bring us to our knees.
It was just one pissed off guy. And that’s the way it almost always is. Not only does life fall far outside those random parameters, but the term “random violence” is actually an oxymoron.
With one exception in the Amish community, people don’t just walk off the street and start shooting up a school. Every last perpetrator – even those with a mental illness – has had a major connection to their chosen venue. And they typically leave a trail a mile long.
All the Chicago shootings are far from coincidental. The real problem is that some folks will inevitably get caught in all that gang war crossfire.
Our two recent Kane County murders weren’t random. One man stabbed his grandmother over money while the other strangled his wife over an affair. The police know that 80 to 90 percent of murder victims knew their attacker so they always head for family first.
I can understand why my school district moved a bus stop from proximity to a sex offender’s home, but the truth is, virtually every pedophile grooms their victims – sometimes for months – before any actual abuse occurs.
Ed Snowden, the subprime mortgage crash, Enron, Lehman Brothers, Bernie Madoff, Arthur Andersen, and most cases of corporate espionage were all inside jobs. There’s a reason the myth of the nefarious “other” who descends upon Earth’s hapless inhabitants to destroy our cities and steal our beer only happens in H. G. Wells novels and Marvel movies.
And the unyielding irony is, because we’re so willing to buy into it, we’re inviting a far more dangerous form of cultural cancer than the few mass shootings that actually do appear to be random could ever cause. (Though if we had a better mental health care safety net, even those could be eliminated.) Whenever we choose to exist in a state of perpetual unfounded fear, there are always those politicians and panderers more than willing to step in and fill the void.
To wit, the NRA would have us believe there’s a threat around every white suburban corner, while conservative Republicans love to proclaim they’ll “take back our country” from a variety of imagined threats that would make the average paranoid schizophrenic downright jealous.
Meanwhile, while we scan the philosophical horizon for the ubiquitous bad guys who never seem to show up, the folks who whisper in our ear with an arm around our shoulder are making our worst fears come true. It didn’t take a radical Muslim despot to almost destroy our financial system! We accomplished that all by ourselves!
We really gotta start looking in the right direction folks!
So while the TSA has yet to nab a single terrorist, one unhappy employee set a fire and took out O’Hare and Midway airports for the better part of a weekend. And I guarantee you, when the final investigative smoke clears, this event will come as a surprise to absolutely no one.
Though I’m equally convinced that the answer will have to be more guns!