Sunday, July 18, 2010

Witnessing

On my trip home today I had an experience on the subway. As opening lines go that belongs in some Hall of Fame. Shortly after I got on a somewhat better dressed than average for a sweltering Summer Sunday and rather presentable Chinese woman got on with two shopping bags. She put the bags down and then launched into her sermon. Now we get many religious fanatics in the subway and so many pan handlers and performers that you get to judge them as to quality and some of the regulars are well known. The worst is the blind accordion player, who has turned his instrument into a tool that belongs in Abu Gharib. Most barely pretend to practice their craft. They scratch out a few bars or croak out a few lines and then shake the crowd for money and move on. Rarely you get a real talent, a young opera student for example who can really make the cynical passengers applaud. I object to the illegal alien musicians because they are illegal aliens. Some people need to read that twice and still don't get it.

As far as I am concerned forcing yourself on people in a confined space is ill mannered at best. If someone really wishes to do good and believes in their message then they might introduce themselves and offer contact information. As far as I know the law begging or performing for money on a train is illegal and any use of an amplifier or audible electronic device is prohibited. The woman today did neither, she simply spoke or sung. The thing was she did it for a full thirty five minutes. Her voice was pleasant but after a while some people started to yell at her. She ignored them. She was not there to engage others but to witness for her own satisfaction. My biggest concern was that she strode up and down the car leaving her bags unattended. That raised the Homeland Security alarms in my head and had me thinking what would I do if she suddenly exited the car as the doors were closing, leaving her bags behind? We assume that while some terrorists might bring a bomb into the system, and we have very little protection against that risk, most terrorists would attempt to leave a bomb behind and make a get away. That may be a false assumption. "If You See Something Say Something" is a great slogan and a worthwhile campaign but to me the greatest threat is the religious fanatic willing to die delivering their message.

At the end a man attempted to engage her in conversation and she just kept on singing or preaching. He was I suspect a more traditional poverty pimp annoyed that she was crowding his game. She asked for no money.

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