G.I. JIMMIE/BACK TO SCHOOL
Ah, the never ending metamorphosis of life in the twenty-first century. Days ago, a pair of entrepreneurs announced the availability of their brainchild product, the bullet-proof backpack. It's been a while since any business news has so captured me, I've rolled this around in my head like a pinball, not knowing quite what to make of it even as I write this. At first glance, it seems like a silly notion, which I believe it is. On the other hand, the very fact that it's hard to say how silly, makes the whole deal unsettling.
In a strange sort of way, the best thing about the Bullet-Proof Back Pack (BPBP) may be that it stimulates thought and dialogue about the very fact that it now exists. I have joked that to complete the back-to-school package, I am offering a kit which includes a semi-automatic fountain pen, a tazer-eraser, a combination lunchbox/bomb shelter, and of course, a Kevlar notebook. As I thought more about the BPBP I imagined the conversation I would have to have with my child, or children in my case, about the implications of donning all this combat gear for school. "It's not that there's anything to worry about...." I would feign, as parents always do when downplaying childhood fears, while wondering myself if the psychic damage incurred simply by the necessity, outweighs the danger. I mean, to be completely safe, we should all wear some kind of heavy helmet when outdoors to protect ourselves from falling airplane parts, and other strange objects and various lumps, which have descended from the heavens recently. I would be likley to abstain, opting to take my chances with the long odds instead. I guess this is how I feel about the BPBP.
So, I've laid out my logic train for you and that should be the end of it, so why am I still thinking about it? Perhaps it's the unsavory notion of a business that profits from fear, but I'm not sure these two guys are from that pool. They say they got the idea after watching footage from Columbine. It may very well be a sincere effort to save kids, so I can't disagree with that angle. Put that to rest and what's left? Maybe it's the unspeakably sad statement that in this great country, we may in fact not be far from a time when a BPBP will be standard-issue school gear for your youngsters. Certainly, there are parents in crime-ravaged neighborhoods all over the country that would tell you it is definitely time, and they may be right. Most of us will stop at nothing when it comes to protecting our children, but what about the protection of their innocence? How sad that today's child can no longer linger in childhood daydreams and fun and that, at such an early age, we must indoctrinate them to the woes of the world.
For me, if the day ever came when I thought such gear was necessary for my child to attend school, I would either move, or home-school. But the thing about this back pack that bothers me most, is the underlying message of surrender that it carries with it. It says, "we give in to the bad guys and lunatics" and rather than address the problems that have led us to this time, when you can buy protective school gear for your child, that we shield ourselves instead. "Don't shoot my child Mr. Badman!!" It is surprising, really, that good Americans are not marching in the streets with torches, taking back the country. I wouldn't rule it out as an eventuality however, because sooner or later, people will figure out that nobody's coming to fix this for us. The government is not going to do it, nor, in a way, should they be expected to. A civilized society requires boundaries, physical and otherwise, and when members exceed the boundaries they should be expelled. That's how the gorillas have done it for years. You step on a banana one too many times, and pretty soon, you're Grilled Gorilla On-A-Stick. It's worked well for them, maybe the humans should try it.