Location: Santa Ana, California, United States

Virginia Bola operated a rehabilitation company for 20 years, developing innovative job search techniques for disabled workers, while serving as a Vocational Expert in Administrative, Civil and Workers' Compensation Courts. She is a licensed clinical psychologist with deep interests in Social Psychology and politics and an admitted diet fanatic. She has performed therapeutic services for more than 20 years and has studied the effects of cultural forces and employment on the individual. The author of two interactive workbooks, The Wolf at the Door: An Unemployment Survival Manual and Diet With An Attitude: A Weight Loss Workbook, she also publishes a monthly ezine, The Worker's Edge and various weight loss mini-courses. She can be reached at,, or

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Poor Little Rabbit: The Runaway Bride

The airwaves crackle with speculation about the Georgia woman who just couldn't face her long-planned wedding. Law enforcement is deciding if they should prosecute or try to recoup the almost 100,000 dollars spent when it was believed that she had been abducted.

What's the problem? Her fiance states that he still loves her and wants to marry her. The vendors for the 600-guest wedding will get paid anyway, without any of the work. The families' pride will eventually be restored and their embarrassment erased.

What does the hoopla say about the state of our society? In other eras, without the mass communication apparatus available today, people could just disappear, and often did. When someone drops out now, we assume foul play because we are so inured to its occurrence. Is it her fault that a manhunt was launched? Her initial claim that she had been abducted was patently false; her real act of running away was an emotional jolt to her family but surely not against the law, nor was it for the California housewife who chucked everything and went to Las Vegas.

Or is there an obscure statute somewhere that prohibits us from shipping out with no notice and no apology? If we are not avoiding debts or crimes, why can't we go wherever we want?

Our society is so organized and our identities so rigidly bound with numbers and personal history that we can no longer escape ourselves. Wherever we go, we can be traced: social security numbers, names, dates of birth, bank account numbers, fingerprint archives, Internet droppings, medical and dental records. Where does it stop?

Communication and intelligence-sharing is needed for security purposes but just how deep into our private lives should Big Brother intrude? Personal freedom means the freedom to be ourselves, to go wherever, and do whatever, we want as long as it doesn't infringe on the rights of others. Do others have, in fact, the right to know who and where we are?

Look at the almost-bride's eyes in every photograph. She looks like a terrified rabbit seeking a way to bolt - and finally she did. Poor little rabbit, you didn't get very far, did you?

The occasional urge to flee, to run off to join the circus, to tie up our goods in a scarf on a stick and set off to see the world, tempts all of us at times.

Forget it. You'll be found, brought back, publicly humiliated, and presented with a bill for the money it cost to search for you.

No wonder we read books, watch movies, and play games rooted in fantasy. Was it a coincidence that both the George bride and the California housewife both headed for Las Vegas, the ultimate fantasy? We are no longer allowed a life of adventure or exploration, spending our days, as Thoreau envisioned, leading lives of "quiet desperation."


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