The ID insult II-Tyrannosaurus-Bureaucratex

There is a strange feeling every time a man of “authority” is checking your ID papers. Any ID papers, that is! At least this is how I feel… It might be only my imagination, but as I am preparing to travel to a different continent in the upcoming days, all this identification which I will get, will be one more time: insulting, funny, pointless, time consuming, and absolutely brainless…

So, I will once more approach the counter, office, desk, for a standing in line inspection. I will give my papers to “the man” and he will have a good look at them. When he will be done, he will turn to look at me, in order to connect the papers that he is holding, with me!
At that specific moment there is a gap, a gap between me and those damn papers he is holding, as if the papers and I, are two separate things that he will now glue together with this stupid look, that he/she is giving me.
It is nothing less than that!
Let me ask you the following… Why is it I think, that all those who systematically and successfully break the law (by not even going to the trouble of faking any of their IDs) are now traveling VIP while I will have to go through a process which makes no sense?

Scientists claim that all Dinosaurs are extinct from the face of the earth, but how accurate is that? There is still one among us… Ugly and mean, pounding his feet, trampling around, and running us over…
He is named (by me!) Tyrannosaurus-Bureaucratex and I wonder if ever his bones are going to be displaced in some future museum… He mainly feeds himself with a protein called “human stupidity” and that is why he grew so large, larger even than poor ol’ T-Rex…
I have proof that he exists, and I will let you see him with your own eyes, but through my little stories, which actually might be yours as well.

The driving license paradox
When you travel to a foreign country, which requires the use of a passport, it is only natural to apply for an international driving license, in case you wish to rent a car. This driving license will permit you to drive up and down, left and right, and all around, for as long as you stay there, which could also be months…
That means, you are capable to drive in whatever country, there is no question about that. In order to play the devil’s advocate here, I will tell you that I have many times driven with such an international license in England… So, from one day to the next, and without any kind of training, I was driving on the left side of the road, from what usually is my co-driver’s seat, entering left into squares, changing gears with my left hand etc.
And yes, I admit that once, instinctively I turned-in right into a square, causing a momentary confusion in the middle of London! But it took me less than a second to stop the car, open the alarm lights and raise both hands in apology, while in the meantime I was called a moron and other nice English “brands!”
But even so, even with that momentary difficulty to adapt, I was not denied that I am a driver! And I state as fact, that after that one time glitch I became British-green in no-time, and had my chance to shout “moron” to other drivers who dared to came “overseas” and not know their left!

The paradox is, that if you would apply to permanently stay in a foreign to you country, you automatically are obliged to give exams just like any mor… beginner I mean. I speak from experience, it happened to me in L.A. a long time ago. So, regardless if you have driven around for months in that country, regardless if you can renew again and again your international driving license and keep it that way, you suddenly “don’t exist as a driver” if you turn out to stay there permanently.
“So, what is the big deal?”, you might ask, but it is a big deal, at least to me! At the time I was carrying a driving license with all the possible upgrades, which allowed me to drive anything that moves on wheels on this earth, simply enough because being a professional driver has been one of the many jobs I have done in my life.
So, once more I stood in line, looking at a very slow in every one of her maneuvers fat lady, which sat behind a desk, and she was holding my professional driving license ID (and a ton of other ID documentations which clearly showed what I am as a driver) giving me that look I was telling you about at the start of this text…
And then she told me from the top side of her glasses that I don’t exist as a driver anymore, until I do the dance that the Bureaucracy-Dino wants me to dance and start from scratch.   
At this particular moment, it was the first and last time that I badly missed my heavy-track, which I was driving for the Army for two long years in order to pull cannons to the firing field…

The following story is also from my own experience, but I will keep details out and make it as short as possible. The idea is simply to give an example and leave my “decorations” where they belong…

Imagine this, which is no imagination but a true story:
You are officially invited to a foreign to you country, in order to participate in a contest which involves the work that you do (you can place yourself in my shoes and put your own work here as they say…).
You pack your stuff, you go there and what happens is that you win the prize of the contest! You get a trophy and a diploma for it… Next step, you have the gracious idea of applying a request in order to work in that country. And guess what? To your surprise they say yes, but here comes the Dino! They say yes, but the condition is that you will have to go back from the start of learning your work, just as if you are a total beginner. And I mean, all the way back… beginner!
In the hope that this is for sure some joke or misunderstanding, you show them the prize, the diploma, your achievements in the field, your background, the whole nine yards etc.
Nope! It became Dino dinner... 

Before and after, vice-versa, back and forth… and all over again
I will try to confuse the Dino, since I cannot kick him… Please understand, this is not to confuse you as well!

I grew up in a Europe of divided countries. Hold on to that.
At some point those countries did unite. Hold on to that.
Now, it seems we are going full-speed back to square one. Hold on to that.
And after all that, we will probably see what we will see… Nothing to hold on to.

Before it was before… (no typo here, we are about to confuse the Dino!) We were having borders, checkpoints, passports, visas, currency exchange, human scanners, luggage search, pocket search, the Berlin wall, the imprisoned in their own country Russians… you name it, we had it all!
After before… (stay with me!) we did get rid of all that, or most of that, and we moved around freely and happily,  just like migrating birds do.
But what was before was before… And now I am looking at London (and Europe and the rest of the world) and wonder what kind of before we will have now, because it has not been decided yet (see Brexit, “Refugee” crisis, Religious fanatic’s terrorism)

Please think of it… In this entire process of going back and forth, you, me, and the rest of us, we all have been “ID insulted” how many times?
If you are to put on a table, all the documents of your life, which say that this is you, this is your identification of who it is you are, you are going to need more than one table!
But according to the Dino and the bossy man on the counter, all your documentations seem to be a trick of cards. They will mix them up, deal them, combine them, play them around, and if you are lucky you will come up with a flush of spades.
“We are being played” is an understatement.

In a distant Star Trek optimistic future, I assure you that all this will be gone for good. Like so many things of the past, that have been wiped out.
Since it is scientifically proven that each and every one of us is totally unique, we will stand together as human beings and proudly apart as sole individuals.
No papers on paper ladies and gents…

The “system” is not something from “outer space” It is created from people like you and me… But many times people who maneuver the system, become so bureaucratic, they are unable to see us, for who we are.
Maybe someday the system will be able to see us again, for who we really are and do its job right.

The unknown name
If memory serves, I must have been participating in one of my first Aikido “Seminars” when a Japanese Aikido Master (and direct student of O’Sensei Morihei Ueshiba) by the name of Sekiya came to teach at the Athens Polytechnic School. He was in his early 70s at the time, slim, gray and calm. As he taught a thought came to myself that I had not had since childhood: “When I grow up I want to be just like him”
He mostly used his personal Uke in order to demonstrate, a young American girl who was a live-in student with him in Japan…
We were quite a lot of people, so, when I heard him call out my name from the other side of the huge training hall “Mario!” I stone-froze! And with me, half the people present as well… What is it that I had done? …and how the hell did he know my name in order to call it? And why so loudly and from across the class? So far he had called nobody else in that manner!
The good thing is that one can make a dozen of thoughts in less than one second, so I immediately turned to him, bowed slightly and replied loudly and without hesitation “Hai Sensei” just as I was trained to do, by the Sensei which I called my own.
It was no big deal after all, I could breathe again… He smiled, walked towards me and made some corrections on my technique…
Then I realized just how dumb I was… Of course he called my name, it was written on my left sleeve, as it is the custom in Aikido.
I was back in practice and one second later I stone-froze again! …wait a minute, how did he read my name from the other side of the training hall? Oh yes, Aikido Masters have super-vision, that must be it! And I was back to normal…

The most intimate IDentification (hence ID) for a person is his first name. When you first meet someone and, if there is no kind of intent, pretend, agenda or showoff, you state your first name… Like in “Hi, my name is Mario” And you would expect from the other person to give you his name in return. I don’t know a country, culture (or epoch) where this is not so…
It is the first thing you ask from a person and the first thing you give, even when you are a kid. Remember?!

And then we have to spoil our name, by adding titles, ranks and positions to it. The Aikido community being no exception in promoting this behavior while advertising otherwise! The rank is of no importance, the spirit is, but we are happy to give you belts.
Out true identity as Martial Artists lies where it should, and not where it is placed for others to see…

Hours of practice multiplied by the years, instead of titles…
Skill and ability of performance, instead of ranks…
Experience and attitude, instead of positions and talk…
Make “a name” of yourself, even if it means to remain unknown to the many. For each day you rise and each day you turn in, the person you end up with, is only yourself...

“When you look at me…  it’s me you see!”

October 14, 2016