Monday, August 29, 2005

Heroes: security guards

The news is terribly familiar: a suicide bomber in Israel, at a Beersheba bus stop this time. We breathe a sigh of relief to hear that the death toll so far is limited to the bomber himself, although two security guards were seriously injured, and forty to fifty others were slightly wounded.

This has become good news, compared to those bombings in which scores die. I guess it's all relative.

Here are a few details:

A Palestinian suicide bomber tried to board a bus at the central station in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba during morning rush hour at the start of the work week. But he aroused the suspicion of the bus driver. Police say security guards chased the bomber, and he blew himself up.

In those terse words "security guards chased the bomber, and he blew himself up" lie unimaginable heroism as well as terrible horror. We've grown accustomed to the players in this story, both the destructive bomber and the guards who give pursuit. The actions of all are astonishing, although the former and the latter stand on opposite ends of the moral spectrum.

By his actions, the bomber courts--even embraces--almost certain death in the service of his goal: to destroy the lives of a maximum number of innocent people. In contrast, by their actions the security guards risk somewhat less certain--but still very likely--death or serious injury in the service of their goal: to save the lives of a maximum number of innocent people. When all instincts of self-preservation would tell most people to run away, the guards run, willingly and deliberately, towards the person who is suspected of having the determination and the ability to blow himself up and take those guards with him. And yet still they approach.

It's hard to think of a more heroic occupation than that of these guards. There are many heroes in civilian life--firefighters, police, rescue workers of all kinds--who regularly risk their own lives for those of others. But I can't think of any other category of civilian worker who regularly takes on the sort of risk that security guards in Israel are accepting every time they approach a person suspected of being a homicide bomber.

Who are these guards? Some, such as those who work the El Al counter at the airport, are highly trained and respected professionals. But since the second intifada began, Israel and its businesses have faced the necessity of employing an unprecedented number of new security guards to meet increased security needs.

A great deal of this increase is in the category of private sector security guards--those who patrol theaters, restaurants, stores, and the like. And it turns out, according to this very troubling article, that these guards are not only courageously risking their lives, but they're doing it for long hours and low pay.

The article appears on the website of a group dedicated to defending the legal rights and improving the working conditions of Israeli guards in the private sector. As such, I suppose the information continued therein should be taken with a grain of salt. Perhaps it's an exaggeration--but somehow I doubt it's very much of an exaggeration (I welcome opinions from anyone who is familiar with the situation).

It's not all that different in this country, although our needs are not nearly as great and the risks not nearly as high--so far, that is. Here's an article describing the generally poor pay, training, and working conditions of security guards in this country.

The problem seems to be endemic in the security guard industry, no matter what the country--so much need and such a rush to train. The wonder, really, is that the guards still perform so well in so many circumstances, despite their relative lack of preparation. And none of this detracts at all from the heroism of the Beersheba guards; if anything, it intensifies and enhances it.


At 1:49 PM, August 29, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Israel yields a portion of land it won in a war it did not instigate and how do the Palestinians respond? They seek the destruction of Israeli citizens.

There is no justice in the claims of the Palestinians. May sorrow and the Furies pursue them to Gates of Gehanna.

At 7:06 PM, August 29, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Young Lady,

I know what a "neo-con" is, I'm still not sure what a "neo-neocon" is. I was converted to what I call liberal conservatism by Goldwatr and Buckley Jr


At 8:04 PM, August 29, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A neo-con that doesn't like being called a neo-con, I'd guess.

Me, I don't mind being called a neo-con. It's always been a funny habit of mine, collecting the insults people hurl at me in righteous fury and wearing them like a badge. But I don't expect everyone to do it, and I don't care much how people label themselves, any more than I care how other people label them.

Actions speak louder than words, and much louder than any label.

At 4:08 AM, August 30, 2005, Blogger camojack said...

The suicide bomber was the anticipated response to the Israeli "olive branch"...unfortunately.

At 5:52 AM, August 30, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Josh--for the definition of a neo-neocon, see this.

At 6:54 AM, August 30, 2005, Blogger goesh said...

The children of the Light and the children of the Dark. In the end, giving a life to save lives will prevail over killing one's self to take life. Sometimes I wonder about that though.

The elements that are controling palistinian life can only respect a force greater than themselves, much like our street thugs. We persist in hoping that somehow thugs and terrorists will be responsive to reclamation efforts on our part, yet we glorify and laud the removal(killing) of cancer and disease from our own bodies. Who hasn't been happy when a cyst, a tumor, a wart, a clot, a weakened vessel has been removed
from the body? Yet we dawdle and hem and haw and wring our hands over social cancer of this nature. How many times have we seen armed and masked hamas gunmen parading, the same men who have vowed to destroy Israel and who are listed as terrorists by our State Department? Where are the gunships and missles to eradicate this cancer from the Collective to insure well being? Why are these bastards exempt from the war on terrorism?

At 11:52 PM, August 30, 2005, Blogger Papa Ray said...

Terrorist groups are "not grouped". They are like a cancer, trying to hide and act like a normal cell, all the while growing and destroying.

Thats why gunships, bombs and missles won't ever wipe them out. It just gives them more energy, as the good cells are destroyed along with a few of them.

Oh, btw, names, tags, titles.

Reminded me of a story a girl told me one time.
She was arrested and at the station, a flatfoot said we got another crack whore here.

She replied, " Listen you SOB, I don't smoke crack and I ain't just anothr whore. I'm a Working Girl."

Papa Ray
West Texas

At 7:36 AM, August 31, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Thats why gunships, bombs and missles won't ever wipe them out. It just gives them more energy, as the good cells are destroyed along with a few of them."

Yeah, just like surgery and chemotherapy never saved the life of anyone afflicted with cancer. If only we'd left the tumors alone, they never would have grown until they destroyed their host.

At 2:50 AM, September 01, 2005, Blogger camojack said...

That's a damned good analogy...

At 11:55 PM, September 03, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I earn a living as a security guard. The financial remuneration will indeed not allow me to live next door to Bill Gates. Nonetheless, it is not a mentally challenging position. This allows me ample opportunity to pursue my intellectual interests. The good outweighs the bad.

At 7:22 PM, April 18, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Papa has a point. Terrorism ain't like the cancer of thugs. With thugs you can wipe them out if you can live with collateral casualties. But terrorism as a cancer is so malignant and abundant that chemo would kill the patient before it removed the terrorism cells.

You'd have to use nuclear weapons in a bomb and gunship format to get rid of terrorism.

You really can't defeat classical guerrila operations, tatter, with medical analogies.


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