The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin’
And the first one now will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’
– Bob Dylan (The Times They Are A-Changin’)
Back when I was a teenager, I remember being eager to reach the legal age at which I could take the examination for a learner’s driving license. It wasn’t that I really thought I’d be driving, but I wanted the license just the same. It signified some rite of passage to me, I guess. License to go and be free.
A friend was kind enough to give me his copy of the ‘Driver Handbook’ published by the ‘Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ (read: road hogs) to help me study for the required exam. One of the first things I remember reading were the words “In the state of Florida, driving is a PRIVILEGE.” The words sort of jumped right off the page and blind-sided me (almost as unnerving as the way in which Florida Highway Troopers (read: stormtroopers) would suddenly appear, riding your rear bumper, their blue lights a blazing). Before even delineating how one attains this privilege, the handbook launched into a list of how said privileges could be taken away. Words like ‘suspended’, ‘revoked’ & ‘incarceration’ seemed menacing … purposely so.
I’m sure you will agree that teenagers quickly catch on to what the word privilege means, especially because they are always being threatened with having theirs taken away. It does seem fairly sadistic to teach children the value of ‘liberty’ by robbing it of them every now and then. It’s even more perverse when the exercise has less to do with education and more to do simply with authoritarian ‘control’.