THE WORLD IS FULL
OF GOOD PEOPLE
It's the holiday season, and like most people, I'm tired of all
the bad news that dominates the airwaves and the newspapers each and every
day. This is supposed to be the time to rejoice, so I'm going to give it a
I was thinking about this while waiting in line at a security
checkpoint at SFO last week for a short business trip. I know it sounds
strange, but I've rejoiced before in security lines. I looked around at all
the travelers patiently waiting their turn, and had only one thought: We've
got the terrorists outnumbered.
This world is filled with good people, and a prime example of
that fact is an airport security line. Every race, creed and color is
represented. Every nationality is represented. Every age, from babies in
strollers to elderly in wheelchairs, is represented.
Every one of them, including me, waits patiently in a security
line to prove once again that they are good, law-abiding human beings who
mean no harm to anyone.
Some are in the TSA Pre line, for "known travelers."
Others are in the regular line, but there is no real difference. We're all
trusted travelers. We're all on the same side, for once.
While there's certainly much to dislike, that's what I love
about security lines at airports---we're all on the same side. Political
differences, social differences, cultural differences--- it's all forgotten
and ignored as we empty our pockets and put our carry-ons on the conveyor
belt. When we willingly and happily enter the metal detector, knowing the
experience is coming to an end, we're doing it as a team.
The TSA employee nods and waves us through, letting us know we
are all good people. Sometimes I get a little extra attention, maybe a pat
down, maybe a bag check, but that's okay. It's all for the common good, and
I readily acquiesce. In the end, we're given the seal of approval, and we
head to the gate with our compatriots from all over the world.
I'm not saying we're necessarily safe. Studies show the
scanners are far from foolproof. What I'm saying is that we all are pursuing
the same goal---trying to be safe. And we're all in it together.
Our team is winning, and it's not even close. That's what I
want to say in this holiday season. There will always be bad guys, but
standing in a security line at the airport proves to me that the good guys
outnumber the bad guys by a zillion to one. To me, that's very comforting
and reason to rejoice.
If security lines at airports doesn't strike you as a reason to
rejoice (and I wouldn't be surprised), use your own example of human
teamwork. Maybe it's The Chronicle's Season of Sharing fund, maybe it's the
United Nations, maybe it's the way drivers wait for the green light.
During this holiday season, try to think of something, because
we are a world filled with an overwhelming majority of good people who mean
no harm to anyone. The bad guys may win a battle or two, but they'll never
win the war.
For me, the security lines at the airport drive the point home.
I look at the families, the businessman, the disabled veteran, the tattooed
biker, the honeymooners, the orthodox Jew, the woman wearing a burka, the
bearded Arab, the grandmother in a wheelchair, the student with a backpack.
We're all the same, politely waiting in line to prove we mean no harm.
For some reason, standing with my fellow travelers makes me
feel optimistic about the world. I understand many people probablyfeel the
opposite. To some, security at airports is a reminder of all the evil in the
So be it. Terrorism has been around since the beginning of
time, and will never cease. During this holiday season, I choose to dwell on
the 99.999% of people in this world who wish me no harm.
So I stand in line with my fellow human beings, with no pushing
or shoving, and we empty our pockets together. No matter what we look like,
or how we dress, we pass through security with a stamp of approval, and then
get on with our distinct but all so similar lives.
We are one and the same. In the end, we all empty our pockets.