Orwell 2019

Slice Of Life

When I was in high school in the late 1980s, I was assigned the George Orwell novel, 1984. I barely got through it and kept saying to myself, “This guy is crazy, he thinks the world would have been filled with cameras and the government watching us at our every move in the year 1984?” I disliked the book for many years. Skip to today and I teach the novel and my students and I love it because in 2019 many of the things Orwell had predicted have come true. Some of my best research projects were privacy based on the novel and comparing it to today’s surveillance world.

One of the reasons Orwell wrote the novel and worked tirelessly to finish it before his death was that he was afraid of a totalitarian government. He was worried about government taking away our freedom and being in charge of every facet of our lives.

Over the last few months, we have had multiple drownings. One young man drowned in Jamaica Bay on a beautiful Sunday afternoon and this past week, two boys (as I write this are still missing and presumed dead) went for a swim on a hot day when no lifeguards were present. Both incidents were tragedies and young lives were lost. But many people want to blame everyone under the sun for a myriad of reasons. When the boy drowned in Jamaica Bay, the cries were there were not enough signs or large enough signs to declare “No Swimming.” People were quoted saying that there should be barbed wire to prevent teens from entering the water. What if I wanted to use a paddle board or kayak from that area? Now because people are not accountable for their actions, the government must take control and no one can use the area?

The same goes for the beaches. Most times people do drown is due to swimming in areas or times when there are no lifeguards. One person stated on social media we should have lifeguards all through September. The drownings last week actually happened on October 1, and this past September was unseasonably warmer than last year. Last year, it rained almost every weekend. People need to respect the ocean. Seasoned swimmers and fishermen lose their lives to the oceans. We just saw the Bahamas ravished by Hurricane Dorian.  People have to know the ocean is a powerful beast.

What we do not need is total government control. We do not need barbed wire to prevent me from walking the shore if it is still a pleasant day in the fall. Now, I do agree with changing the lifeguard hours. 10-6 seems silly to me as many people do not get down to the beach until the early afternoon and I think 11-7 or even 12-8 would be better hours. But we cannot have around-the-clock lifeguards. As my old co-worker Howie Schwach said on a post about the drownings last week: We could have lifeguards 23 hours a day and the teenagers would go swimming in the one hour no lifeguards were present. As a high school teacher I know he is 100% correct.

Have a great week everyone.

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