Stranger Danger

I sometimes break the law. I’m not trying to brag. It’s not the general law I break, it’s a couple very specific ones. And I’m not talking about the speed limit either. My insurance agent reads my blog, so we won’t talk about that. I love going the speed limit! That’s all you need to know, Bob.

I’m talking about a different category of crime. I tend to ignore — which is a polite way of saying break — a highly valued policy of the Department of Homeland Security. That doesn’t sound good, I know. Naturally, I’m all for keeping the homeland secure. Nonetheless.

From the moment you step foot into an airport terminal you are told, “Don’t leave your stuff unattended” and “If someone tries to get you to take care of their stuff, they’re probably a terrorist.” You know, that sort of thing. It’s all rather straightforward and it’s certainly repeated a lot.

But after like twenty minutes at the airport Starbucks, I become very trusting. I’m like “Hey, you, can you keep an eye on my stuff while I use the restroom?” to some random person whose name I don’t even know sitting nearby. They could be a career luggage stealer for all I know. But in that moment, we exchange a glance that somehow communicates “it’s all going to be okay.”

After all, they look like good people. Surely the public service announcement isn’t about them, I tell myself. And I walk off leaving behind my passport, laptop, wallet, social security number, change of clean clothes I packed for the trip, and the dead to my house all under their watchful eye. But all the while I know, I’m breaking a federal law leaving it with them, and they’re breaking a federal law agreeing to watch it. But when ya gotta go, ya gotta go.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m a criminal. And I trust other criminals with my stuff. That’s all.

Oh, and there’s this too. There’s a whole lot of good out there in people and sometimes we need to be willing to see it and trust it. There’s a lot of bad too, but that goes without saying. Sometimes we focus so much on the doctrine of original sin that we forget we’re all created in God’s image, breathing the air of common grace, and walking around with God’s moral law written on our hearts. Maybe that’s why I shouldn’t be so surprised at the goodness and kindness I find in strangers. It happens so often, it shouldn’t seem strange anymore.

Maybe we can all agree to be the kind of people others can count on at an airport Starbucks. And the world will be a better place. For criminals like you and me.