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This TSA controversy over invasive searches has reached hilarious heights with protesters threatening to disrupt air traffic during the Thanksgiving Day holiday. The fact is that US citizens want zero risk with only minimal impact on them personally. This is an impossible mandate.

With the terrorists becoming increasingly sophisticated in bomb design, will it be long before they are placing non-metallic bombs in body cavities? Given TSA’s mandate to stop absolutely all terrorist attacks on airplanes, what will their solution then be?

In most of the world, people live with risk. The infrastructure is primitive. Vehicles are old. Health care is spotty and adequate coverage is generally provided only to the rich. In Bolivia, life expectancy is 60 years of age.

I’ve written about this before, but I think that we have somehow deluded ourselves that life can be risk-free. We have air bags and seat belts in our cars. We have helmets when riding bikes. We have programs to find cures for all diseases. And now we have the TSA officers looking at nude images of ourselves, all in the futile belief that if we do enough, we will eliminate all threats to life and live forever.

Since, this is impossible, we hide away the reality. Few die at home any more. Funeral homes are hidden. Wakes and funerals are sterile events. The elderly are warehoused, away from sight.

In Bolivia, one time I visited an old age home. A friend told me that most residents were aged servants of wealthy families who were rewarding the person for a life of service. She told me that it would be  an unthinkable embarrassment if someone put a parent in a care facility instead of caring for them at home.

As I think I mentioned here before, a Bolivian friend once asked me rhetorically, “Do you know what the difference between you and us? You want to live forever.”

Most of the blogs I’ve read about this issue cast it as one of state power becoming increasingly intrusive. I’ve read the quote from Ben Franklin (“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”) innumeral times. But, I don’t think this is simply citizens striking out at their government for daring to touch their junk.

Rather, I think this gets to the whole question of acceptable risk and getting us to face the reality that we are all slowly dying — some faster than others.

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