Monday, November 08, 2004

What she [and he] said, or why the customs agent made me cry

"...truth is great and will prevail if left to herself; that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate..."

Driving to the US this weekend, I handed my US passport to the customs agent [wearing a jaunty ranger's flat-brimmed hat] and when asked my citizenship, I perkily responded, "I'm one of you! And I voted!"

And without meaning to, out slipped, "...and I'm really sad."

The man just looked at me, with a lot of care and concern in his face, wondering why I was so upset, until he realized that he and I had voted differently.

Gently, he began to tell me how much better off we are now, thanks to the last four years. Earnestly, he listed the improvements [as he perceives them] to the federal infrastructure, like the customs system. "But," I said, "what about the soldiers in Iraq that have to protect their Hummers from artillery with plywood and sandbags? How are they better off?"

"It takes time," he said. And then he continued to say things in support of an administration I do not believe in. And his quiet, unshakeable belief in this administration's correctness broke my heart. He really believed what he was saying. Just as I believe what I and so many others know to be true.

I drove away from the customs booth and had to pull off to the side of the road, crying.