"Never again" A Fable

Posted by jlubans on March 01, 2021

Caption: Diogenes and his lantern with canine audience by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1860?)

At a Central America airport after your visa has been stamped and you’ve picked up your luggage, there’s a final stop. The alcohol control point. There you’ll find a modern version of Diogenes, and his lantern in search of an honest man.
This modern Diogenes and his airport helper query each and every arriving visitor:
“Any alcohol in your luggage?”
From all the denials, our alcohol inspector must feel something like Diogenes endlessly searching with his lantern - in the light of day - for an honest man, Are you an honest man?
Diogenes notes, while you say no, your eyes shift; and he notices a bit of a fidget in your part, a sort of standing on one leg.
He suggests maybe you should answer with “Never again”.
Apparently having to accept thousands of no’s , our modern Diogenes has become even more of a cynic than was the Diogenes of old.
Is this an anodyne for one’s guilt? Perhaps; after all, in the grand scheme, bringing in a few bottles is more peccadillo than felony.
Home free?
Not quite.
You are now asked to push a red NO button behind which sits a veritable Cerberus of an airport x-ray machine, conveyor belt and all.
If your push on the button sets of a flashing red light, (Oh, damn!) you get to have your luggage inspected and any contraband confiscated plus a monetary fine.
If the light turns green, you are free to go, guilty conscience and all. Never again.

Moral: Clutch your rabbit’s foot when pushing that red “NO” button.

*"Never again” reminds me of a recent novel, Soviet Milk, about life in “Soviet Times” in my native country of Latvia. Latvia was an occupied country from 1945 to the early 90s.
If you – a regular citizen – were suspect of harboring anti-communist views, then an official would pull you aside at work or school. A favorite question asked by the communist interrogator/enforcer was, “Do you believe in God?”
A Yes was a quick ticket to a KGB jail cell and a reservation on the next Siberia express cattle car.
In Soviet Milk, the young woman protagonist comes up with an alternative response, “I have not yet met God”.
The communist interrogator is befuddled.
Our heroine did not say yes and she did not say no, but yet she seemed to say that, at worst, she was an agnostic. As such, she’s less dangerous than an all-out Christian.
The enforcer gives her a pass.

© Copyright all text John Lubans 2021
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