Recently, I went to Orlando, Florida where a friend was having a baby. The experience of going to this maternity ward was somewhat of a shock to me. It’s been many years since I have been in a maternity ward to see a newborn. What caught me off guard was the security that surrounded this hospital and the realization that our children are being born in a fortress.
This was a woman’s hospital that was named after the golfer, Arnold Palmer’s wife’s name, Winnie. I have never seen anything like this. When you walk into the place you have to immediately report to the guards and produce a photo ID. Then, they take your ID and take a picture of it through computer imagery. After that, you must take what could only be called a mugshot. Finally, you are handed a picture ID to be placed on your clothes, above the waist, preferably on the right hand side.
There are guards everywhere and they are constantly checking who you are, where you are going and asking it over and over again, even if they had just seen you five minutes ago. The newborns are lojacked with at least two bracelets and a device around their little ankle to GPS any movement at all. Now all of that security surely makes expecting mothers feel safe and their babies protected, however I couldn’t help but feel shame for us a people.
To know what the world has come to, that we birth our children into secure fortress like facilities. We are so screwed up that we have to worry about crazies stealing our babies. The country is so full of wackos that we have to set up secured compounds for our children to be born in. Everyone is so used to this kind of surveillance and security, that no one gives it a second thought.
It makes me sad when I think about the freedom and completely different experience it was years ago when we were growing up. To think going to see someone’s baby would be something like I just went through reminds me of how different a world it is these new babies are being born into. It makes me wonder how far will we, as Americans, go in the future with surveillance, privacy and personal freedom. How much of our way of life will change in the future, just so we can feel safe? How much do we surrender to technology? Why are we so comfortable being on camera everywhere we go?
As I drove off from the hospital in our rent-a-car thinking this through, I missed the cash only toll lane and went into the prepaid SunPass toll lane by mistake, I had a camera take a picture of my car for blowing off a toll booth and not paying. I’m waiting for my ticket in the mail. Welcome to America.