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COLUMN

An Active Resolution

Christen M. Gray

It’s now a new year, and everybody spends at least a few seconds reflecting over the last year. This year people are doing a little less reflecting in the stores and a little more at the airports.

I got to spend a lovely four hours waiting in the Atlanta airport last week and did a little reflecting myself. I reflected on the long-past days when one could wait for a person by the gate in semi-comfortable chairs. You could watch your dear friends soar off into the sky by looking out the window after their plane.

The Atlanta airport is an amazing network and infrastructure with its own internal subway system. Its ebb and flow and absolute size have always astounded me. I comment on this particular airport simply because it’s home to me. It was built to accommodate people in a certain fashion they were used to and expected. Millions and millions of dollars were spent perfecting this magnificent mini-community, especially before the 1996 Olympic Games. And now, the entire thing must be redone.

There is a little yellow line crossing the floor facing the escalators from which people come from the gates. Hundreds of people gather behind this yellow line under the watchful gaze of Military Police. As with any sizable gathering, over time the line of people moves slowly more and more forward, hopeful, looking toward the escalators for loved ones, until every couple hours the MPs come by and remind all to move back behind the lines.

Today, it’s crazy trying to meet anyone at the airport. I quite envied the military personnel. They were there in droves back from Christmas exodus and ready for more training at Fort Benning. At least their Drill Sergeants could wait directly in front of the escalator stopping an man or woman in uniform to give clear instructions. Between snow delays, the holiday hustle and bustle, and the overhead computers that were just plain wrong, the rest of us had to do a lot of guess work and waiting.

In another few years, once the money is raised, the new system designed, and plans implemented we will adjust to a new infrastructure. We will wait at the airport calmly, once everyone knows the system. It will be once again less frantic, but different. Everything will stabilize, but to a slightly different equilibrium.

The airports and the changes that they have undergone and will undergo are the most visible and reflective evidence of the larger changes. Our economy, the way we travel, the way we look at the world is changing very rapidly right now. In time, this too will settle, but to what end?

I recently read a column in The New York Times that railed against the Bush administration for not using the unity and sense of purpose found in our new state to effect great changes for the whole of the United States, particularly in regard to the energy problem.

I agree wholeheartedly with the columnist, but would like to add a more personal charge. While we are in what Voo Doo’s editor aptly called “interesting times,” it is a time for us all to make a stake in the future. If you are concerned that Bush and Ashcroft have their heads in a hole, then get out there and get involved yourself.

Most of the world is still waiting for somebody else to do it for them. The airports will be taken care of just fine without you, but what about everything else? That is not a guarantee. Whatever you care about, be it war, disease, environment, or a host of other things, get involved this year. Have something to say about where the dust settles after the storm subsides in the next few years.