It would seem that the times are changing in America, but that could well have always been the case. Nonetheless, numerous horrific events have unfolded in the past year and as a result, Americans have begun to feel increasingly vulnerable and less safe. Between the shootings at schools, churches, movie theatres, and more recently the Marathon bombing, it would seem that people aren't safe anywhere. But sadly, that is mostly true. Helen Keller said it best when she stated that "Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing."
Kellers statement is nearly the exact point that I will be trying to make here. The more danger we feel we are exposed to, the more we want to do to prevent it. However, the route America has taken both recently and in the past really have not done much to improve our circumstance. In a world where any person could potentially cause great harm, which was quite evident in Boston, how are we supposed to provide safety when we are not even sure where danger lies?
Now there is no doubt that some precautions should be taken to make it more difficult for anyone intending harm to succeed. In many instances, these precautions could very well prevent any harm from being done. But the issue is that at what cost have we provided ourselves safety? What have we given up as Americans to feel safe? Because remember, feeling safe is vastly different from being safe. The answer to that question however, in my opinion, is very long. Though, I certainly agree with the old quote from Benjamin Franklin, where he essentially says that regardless of the danger, under no circumstances should we ever give up essential liberties. To give an idea of what I mean, let's go over a few examples.
Giving Up Rights For Temporary Safety
Countless Bills and laws are passed that are known, and sometimes unknown, which directly and slowly strip our rights as American Citizens away. After 9/11, we are all mostly aware of the Homeland Security Act, as well as the Patriot Act 1&2. But more recently, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing & Protection Act (CISPA) was reintroduced. This law would essentially make it such that any government agency could gather private information from any U.S based website, and subsequently use that against you. This is done without your knowledge, and whatever privacy rights you signed and agreed to could be pushed aside if the government leans hard enough on a company.
Imagine exactly how much of your private information is on websites you frequent. Now imagine that all of that information would be available whenever the government required it. You're Twitter, Facebook, and Google accounts could all be viewed, and countless others. Then there is the recent debate on gun rights, which oddly, doesn't even seem should be an issue.
Our right to bear arms shouldn't ever come into question, and it's confusing as to how it ever could. I've been making the argument for quite some time that if great harm is intended, guns are not needed. Sadly, the Boston Marathon bombing proved me right on that issue. The endless debate on inhibiting gun ownership, decreasing magazine sizes, and anything else was not needed. There are more guns in this country than citizens, and all guns made illegal will still be around. Every magazine that is outlawed will still be around. Not to mention, will a criminal worry over it being illegal for them to own a firearm when their intention is to do something illegal? We only have so many rights in this country, and the ones we have are the ones we need, with no doubt others that were never considered for certain peoples, such as our nations gay population.
Living In Fear Means We've Lost
The point in the end about giving up essential liberty to provide ourselves with temporary safety is that by doing so, we've lost the fight as a country. Many of the reasons proposed about why terrorists target us is based on our freedoms. Freedom of religion, sexual orientation, our free market and countless other freedoms that are viewed as wrong. By changing what we believe in, and by stripping individual rights away shows those we are fighting that they were right.
You've all heard the saying that there is nothing to fear but fear itself, and that is certainly true in my mind. There is no doubt the travesties that occur across our country have made the populace reel in fear and confusion, but should that mean we take a knee? Should we lie down and be a coward, or should we keep our chin up and face these issues with strength, dignity, and clarity. When you turn on the television, it would seem people are frantic, confused, chaotic, and simply upset. And they no doubt have a reason to be. But that should pass; living in continual fear does nothing to make the future brighter. It only makes it darker and more depressed.
Now these are simple words for a simple idea. But if you truly consider it, how much are you willing to give up to "feel" safe? Is it ok if the government knows where you were Saturday, or who you were with? How about who you associate with, your friends, colleagues, old romantic flings, or perhaps the literature you care to read? Do you have the right defend yourself with reasonable means? Should you be considered a suspect when you've done nothing suspicious? Most are familiar with Orwell's novel 1984, and oddly, Big Brother seems to be getting older and cleverer. There are even instances of doublespeak being spoken by politicians, which means they themselves doublethink. I just feel we should all calm down, take a deep breath, and truly understand what it is we are giving up to "feel" safe. Because in the end, feeling is certainly not being.
The author of this article is Damien S. Wilhelmi. If you enjoyed this piece you can follow me on Twitter @ CustParadigm. If you are looking for Security Consulting for a business, be sure to check out Elert.com, where the best consultants can be found.