Saturday, September 22, 2007

Provoking Yang



There is a current news story about the young woman who walked into an airport with a provocative piece of art on her chest, allegedly reminiscent of a bomb, and clay in her hand – supposed to resemble C-4? – What’s interesting is the commentary.

People either despise her for her stupidity or think the police overreacted. But this incident shows the complexity of protection vs freedom. Some comments indicate that anyone who knows about bombs and computer would know the circuit board she was wearing was innocuous. Some people loved calling an MIT student dumb. Other people see the police statement that she is lucky they didn’t shoot her as indicative of a police-state mentality. Innocent people should be able to walk through airports freely without oppressive policing. These reactions do not get to the basic problem, however.

So let’s look at this another way:

Yang energy is a protective energy. Yang does not think: it acts upon perceived threats. And thank goodness for that. We don’t want the people assigned to protect us to think about it too much. No waiting around while the threat gets carried out; no long decision-making process while various responses are weighed and evaluated. Strike, hard. Eliminate the threat. Go back to the cave and watch TV, take a nap, eat. That’s yang energy. Essential to survival. Necessary to protect yin energy.

On the other hand. Yin energy is also essential. Balance. Yin is ease, the spaciousness of freedom of thought and expression, home and hearth, playfulness, sweetness, lightness of being. Yin also nurtures yang. Without these things, we would literally perish.

So here you have two sides to what happened in Boston. Sort of.

OK. But yang also does not like to lose. And the yang energy of the US took an enormous blow on 9/11/2001. There are tons of people out there who literally would rather die than let anything terrible like that happen again. And we need these people. We need that edge, that state of alertness, because there are still people who would take any opportunity to do it again. And our 'protectors' are essential to our survival, not only form terrorist attacks, but from the erosion of society that happens when you feel in danger all of the time.

Yet, we also cherish the ideals of the supposedly free society we live in. How to balance them?

Well, would you walk up to a sentry on duty in Baghdad and pretend to draw a gun just to provoke his defensive stance? Uh, not a good idea. Yet that is what this young woman did. The fact that she was not a threat is after the fact. Had she been truly armed with something, people would have died. Is there anyone on sentry duty at our airports who would take a chance on that happening? Are there people out there who believe the stuff of futuristic films and think that somehow, the people charged with protecting our airports, should have divined that she was not really threatening by knowing the difference between what she was wearing and a real bomb? Obviously there are. Reality is messier and not so clear. Of course, TSA pulling my 80 year old mother out of line [more than once] for a more careful search may have more to do with poor training and bureaucratic idiocy than we’d be comfortable knowing. And I have a feeling that this kind of thing is what many people are more pissed off about.

Truly, provoking a reaction from art critics is a better – and more appropriate method of getting attention. The guys with guns [and some of those guys are girls – no slouches in the shoot-first department] are there to prevent mayhem. If they seem trigger-happy, remember what we lost. Yang protects yin, and will do so even if it means s/he who puts his ass on the line dies. To mock that is a perversion of the natural order. Had she been shot, I would have felt two contradictory things: Thank GOD they are on TOP on any possible bombs – and I would have cried at the death of a yet another kid who did something careless and stupid that got her killed.

And for those critics who think that she got off with too light a punishment, take it easy. She’s a nineteen-year-old who did a really dumb thing. The fact that she was not hustled off and made to disappear– or shot dead instantly – is a good indication that yin is alive and well and nurturing the yang of our system, at least in Boston.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great insight and the yin/yang angle is VERY interesting.....