Metavalent Stigmergy

How New Default Consensus Realities Instantiate

Shopping For Nine Eleven Cards in the Hallmark Aisle

0IMHO, Time Magazine just happened to create one of the more poetically accurate covers of the Nine Eleven Fifth Anniversary Media Frenzy. Sure, this week is as good as any to think about these things; however, by reducing the events of that day to a national Hallmark Anti-Holiday, we dishonor both the lives lost and the memories of their survivors. My bet is that the vast majority will look at that cover in the grocery store checkout line, mind their own business rather than dare pick up a copy, and move on. The problem is that the only way out of the mess we’re in as a society is to pay attention to our surroundings, to daily embody a deep sense of personal responsibility for our environment, and fulfill our duty as brother’s keeper each and every day – if we are to become a better nation.

This leads me to speculate that one of the biggest reasons Nine Eleven happened in the first place is the disintegration of community, a growing “mind your own business” mentality in public spaces – like grocery store lines. To my mind, this is one of the most ordinary places in the world. It’s the evolutionary descendent of every open air market on the planet. But just dare to say anything the the person with 17 items in the 15 item checkout line; or 18, 19, 20, 21 … you pick the arbitrary “grace amount” over the limit.

You see, that’s the problem with “grace amounts,” they vary wildly. That’s there is a prominently posted RULE that says 9, 10, or 15 and therefore 9, 10, or 15 is the cutoff – period. Otherwise, “just one more” can be infinitely justified. “It was only 16 …” leads to “well, she had 16 and I only have 17 …” and so on. No, there isn’t a “common sense” level that is too many over the limit; because some would call it 18, some 20, some 25.


The disingenuous defensive cry of RACIST! if you dare to POLITELY enforce this role upon someone who looks different from you is not just a red herring; it’s utterly revolting, and it’s un-American. AND it’s becoming more and more the norm.

It’s my anectdotal observation that there is a growing baseline ignorance, a cancerous conception of “freedom” that has grown more common than ever. That conception says, “this is America, where I have the ‘freedom’ to ignore the rules.” The conscientious are increasingly trampled by the increasingly self-absorbed. This is an utterly distorted and dangerous misinterpretation of freedom.

But how can this whiny rant have anything to do with Nine Eleven? Some might read this and thing, “Wow, looks like you have some pretty weird control freak issues with numbers of yoplait containers and there’s medication for that kind of thing, man. Chill.”

My point is, these seemingly insignificant things matter because the perpetrators of Nine Eleven played them to the max, in EVERYTHING they did. They showed up to buy box cutters, glaring back at you with that, “MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS” glare. They showed up at local flight schools with that “MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS” attitude about my extracurricular life.

A terrorist’s best friend is a culture of MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS because it guides eyes and attention away from the actions of others; especially, devious and ill-conceived actions. So, my contention is that a growing army of home-grown, common-folk Grocery Store Express Checkout Line Nazi’s are the best protection against the need for Department of Homeland Security Nazi’s doing the enforcement for us.

WE ARE OUR BROTHER’S KEEPERS, whether we like it or not. The more we neglect this fundamental role, the more dangerous our society will become; the more we fulfill the obligation – in even the most insignificant ways – the safer, more aware, and more alert we will become. <div align="right">

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Written on September 8, 2006