( Can we afford common sense? )
( Photos from NYT )
On August 7, 1974 a French stuntman, Phillipe Petit strode back and forth for 45 minutes on a galvanized steel rope tied between two World Trade Center towers. Many New Yorkers woke up to this awesome scene of a thin man dressed elegantly in black robe tip toeing fearlessly on the steel rope. It took Mr. Petit years to prepare for this stunt and made about 100 trips of the towers.
NYT writes about the incidence, “The night before, Mr. Petit and a small band of friends and conspirators slipped past the guards disguised as construction workers to execute their plan. Just after dawn, Mr. Petit stepped out into a stiff breeze. A quarter mile below, hundreds of pedestrians cheered as they looked skyward.
“Get off there or I’ll come out and we’ll both go down,” a police officer shouted.
And when Mr. Petit descended 110 floors to the street below, he was taken away in handcuffs.”
When asked why you did it? He responded “There is no why? If I see three oranges I have to juggle, and if I see two towers, I have to walk.”
Later District attorney dropped the charges in exchange for a free performance in Central Park. Mr. Petit remarked that this is the most beautiful sentence he ever received.
Few weeks ago New Yorkers woke up to another beautiful scene of two huge white flags flying and fluttering in breeze atop the Brooklyn Bridge. Very few were laughing and many criticized the NYC police for serious security breach. New York City police felt embarrassed that it happened right under their nose and it has started investigation. Yesterday two German artists came forward and admitted that they did it to honor German born engineer who built the bridge and celebrate the open space of New York. The New York officials want to prosecute the artists. The artists were confused and surprised by the stiff reaction shown by many New Yorkers and the New York officials.
The two incidences show the world before and after 9/11. Everything is viewed through the prism of security breach, terrorism and a nagging question always hangs on our head – why it happened? Sometime there is no why!
Yesterday I went to Home Depot to buy few things and one of the items was small utility knife. When I scanned it at self-pay counter, the sign came on the screen “Please show your Driver License to the attendant”. I was puzzled. The attendant told me it was because of utility knife.
I think we are reaching at the pinnacle of paranoia and the claim that we will not let the terrorists affect our way of life is a hollow slogan. We are becoming a society of suspicion and paranoia who no longer can afford a common sense approach. It is time to step back and look at what are we doing to ourselves with this never ending fear of terrorism.