Whose World is This Child?

A Protest in Prose

My spouse is by training a hormones (haha) and brain development expert, and she has put forward to me the following theory:

Toddlers are the only people who express themselves fully on airplanes.

By extension (and this she also points out), adults in this scenario are like repressed toddlers, hands like vices on preferably both armrests, in an attempt not to give voice to their urges and their anger while on board.

But then afterwards all bets are off.

There we have it: a theory of adulthood in three sentences.

From here I suppose this column could veer, as it often has, in many directions: church, state, race, patriarchy, homophobia, what have you.

That first is the one topic I've never touched on here. Neither shall I today.

But airplanes. Planes, trains, automobiles.

Here in Atlanta, where grim suburbs promise interstate views of a descending C-17 Globemaster -- and Hartsfield-Jackson International brings Coca-Cola to the world — well, travel is in the air, isn't it.

And woot for that. Because what isn't by air is by land.

East Atlanta, my dear neighbor, is an intown neighborhood which organizes against cell towers from CLIR, but somehow had not quite known what to do -- especially at the yard-sign level -- with John Oxendine's proposal to plow the whole place under and build a parallel downtown connector.

We have traffic and real estate, allergies and asthma, liquor and a library.

How different are the good people of East Atlanta, from the people of East Cobb County, when it comes to the money that makes schools go round, or the knot in your stomach on a turbulent flight?

Not different enough perhaps.

How much — a topic for another column: — how much of America's poor performance in school is due to poor health? The asthma so severe it might need another designation? The smogs of an L.A. nostalgia? The long slur of alcoholism?

What is not illness is simply poison by quite a lot of other names.

So if I may return to my opening salvo: how different are all of us, from the toddlers from whom we divert their pre-K money; from the smog we spew and the light rail we endlessly postpone; from the oil slicks we grimly subsidize; from the cell phones — lifelines — that we authorize and re-authorize to spy on us?

Not different enough. Perhaps.

Hey: why don't Americans clap when their plane lands?

Because we're all really afraid of thin luck.

Peace to Mike Davis. I am out.


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