Non sign II sculpture
Picture taken Sept. 2011

What do racial profiling, dating and security guards have in common?

Sizing someone up in a matter of seconds; that's the job of a border guard.  Police officers have a similar job.  The folks that society places in positions of "screening people" have a difficult task.  This process may be similar to what happens at a singles bar, or in a job interview.  First impressions speak loudly.  Looks makes a big difference in this situation.  No wonder people complain about racial profiling.  Race can be the first thing one notices, in a matter of seconds.  Trying to stop race from being a factor is like halting the tides; it isn't likely to happen.  Those who think they can stop it are probably wasting their energies.

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The real problem may not be racial profiling, it is TIME.  Yes, time.  We put our guards and police officers in the absurd situation of having to determine if someone is trustworthy in a matter of seconds.  It doesn't really work.  Things would be better if there was time for the person, at the check point, to get to know each human being who passes through.  Only then could we get beyond such superficial issues as looks.  Only then could we find out about the real person inside.

Flowers at Peace Arch Park near Blaine, WA. on the US. Canadian border.

Good idea, but the line going through the checkpoint would be incredible!

This says something about the speed of our society.  There are too many situations where thousands of strangers pass through a checkpoint.  There are not enough situations where folks actually sit down and take the time to listen and get to know someone.

Sizing people up in a matter of seconds is problematic weather one is looking for a possible date, going through hundreds of job applications or asking a few questions at the border.  Can one really get any understanding of another person this way? 

Peace Arch stands on the border.
Bicycling usually means I get to bypass the line of cars and use customs check point for pedestrians.

If we can ever figure out how to "slow down" and get more depth in our conversations, maybe we will truly discover that the person who looks different is truly a good human being.  Slowing down may be too much to ask of people.  We don't want the lines at the border, or getting onto an airplane, to become miles long.  On the other hand, it seems like we will not be able to rid ourselves of such afflictions as racial profiling unless we start figuring out how to put more time into the situations we pass through.

Canadian maple leaf in flowers of park.

See also:

Bellingham area tour

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