Just Plain Foolish

Just a chance for an old-fashioned, simple storyteller to say what needs to be said.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Looking to the future.

This weekend, I've gotten a chance to get a tourist's eye view of the city I live and work near. There are tons of tourists who pour in every year for this holiday, and there are all kinds of things going on to cater to that crowd. So my husband and I and some friends made like tourists and went. And as we went out there (though with a local's knowlege of where to eat, etc.), I found myself looking at the ads. Normally, like most people overexposed to advertizing, I just tune them out. They form an ever-present backdrop to public transit, and yet, I found myself noticing them.

They worried me. Only not in the ways they were meant to worry me. There was tons of advertizing warning against the dangers of complacency. Be afraid of terrorism was the not-so-subtle theme. This on top of the everpresent enormous trash cans for containing explosive blasts, the announcements that "Metro is here for you," and other reminders to be afraid, constantly afraid. Gone are the subtle reminders of a few months ago to keep an eye on bags. They've been replaced by signs that don't even have specific suggestions for practical things to do- just... be afraid.

And then, I saw It. It was lurking in the Chinatown exit, between the escalators and the fare machines. It scared me in a way that the constant bombardment of terrorism reminders had failed to do. Now, I confess this ad would likely not frighten some of my fellow Americans. It might even make them proud. But it scared the willies out of me. The picture was of some bright looking kids sitting very seriously around a computer. The caption was "The Crew of Tomorrow's Destroyer". It was obviously paid for by some military contractor or another, and it scared me badly.

I know I've posted before about having been a whiz kid in the 80's. It took me a long time to see the ways in which other people sought to use my intelligence for ends I do not ethically support. It's hard to admit when so much of your identity is wrapped up in a number that that number doesn't mean you know it all, and that other people can, in fact, manipulate you. Our best and brightest are encouraged to serve their country, and this is not all a bad thing, but how many bright kids of today graduate only to join the military in the hopes of getting tuition for college, or even just of advancing the glory of our country? How many kids, filled with the wonders of science and technology, are working on weapons systems to more efficiently kill? How many other messages are they getting?

And part of me wonders what will happen when they realize how they've been used.


Blogger Don said...

Good thoughts. I hear you. Peace.

7/04/2006 4:36 PM  

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