Thursday, January 4, 2007. At approximately 6:05am, a large ball of fire streamed through the sky from Ft. Collins to Colorado Springs. I heard the “unconfirmed report” on the radio as I drove to work that morning at 6:30 – “a possible meteor had entered the atmosphere above Ft. Collins.” Perhaps only a few dozen people witnessed this spectacular event. One of these happened to be a co-worker of mine who saw it as he went to his car in the morning and had enough time and presence of mind to go back inside, retrieve his camera, and take three photographs before it fizzled out toward the south.
It was later that I heard the confirmed report. It was a Russian satellite booster rocket that had gone astray.
The obvious question to me was this: Exactly where were all the expensive and high-tech homeland security devices in which we Americans have invested our taxes? Why was this “fiery remains of a rocket” not intercepted by the legendary Patriot missile or even some antiquated protection system? Isn’t this the classic Star Wars scenario that Ronald Reagan spent his presidency (and the American tax money) protecting us against? How about at least a warning alarm?
How important is the concept of security? How much are we willing to spend in order to feel secure? On the other hand, how much inconvenience are we willing to endure for the same feeling?
I recently stood in a long line. I waited for the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) to search potential travelers at the airport and to screen out characters or objects that may endanger the security of a flight. To my dismay, I realized that I forgot to unpack my pocketknife and leave it in my car. I was too late to go back, so I discreetly slipped it into my leather briefcase which I set onto the conveyor belt and put on the best poker face I could manage. I strolled right through the metal detector and my bags rolled right through the x-ray machines lined with important-looking uniformed and armed guards. I smiled and walked toward the gate as the guy behind me argued that even though his tube of toothpaste said it was 10 oz (over the limit), was almost empty and he should be allowed to carry it on.
Well, at least we could be assured that there were no unauthorized tubes of toothpaste or mouthwash or breast milk being smuggled onto a commercial aircraft in order to incapacitate the pilot or somehow bring the flight to ruin. If so, at least I would have my knife with me so I could stab the perpetrator who was squeezing toothpaste at the pilot while dumping breast milk on the co-pilot.
I think of Matthew 23:24. We have successfully strained out a gnat, but have apparently swallowed a camel.