In our post-9/11 world, we watch carefully and take tedious note of those who excite our paranoia. We tap, tape and follow. We incarcerate and interrogate based entirely on suspicion.
We do this in the name of safety.
The tragic catch 22 is in our zeal for protecting public security we have unwittingly endangered it.
We’ve granted the safety administrations of our government the authority to abate the rights of any citizen based on arbitrary suspicion. No longer are the standards absolute. In our perpetual apprehension, they have become malleable to the whims of law enforcement.
In a world drunk with fear, it takes a sober mind to understand we are jeopardizing our own liberty. Each concession we make cripples our own prosperity and ultimately helps fulfill the objectives of wicked people who sought only to incite panic and doubt.
As soon as any citizen is unlawfully relinquished of her or his rights, the populace becomes oppressed. Every time a citizen is not protected from unlawful search and seizure, every time her or his privacy is invaded or right to self-expression nullified, the world suffers and we all become inherently less free.
Haven’t we already learned this lesson? Has history taught us nothing? We have seen the socially stagnating effects of mass paranoia—seen how fear begets hatred and hatred begets destruction, loss and anguish.
If we are to survive this “War on Terror,” we must assert our rights and honor those of others at all costs. If we fail to do so, we implicate ourselves as accomplices in the assassination of human compassion.
I understand the challenge entailed. We are overwhelmed by the fear ensnaring our hearts. 9/11 changed the emotional reality of our nation. Our “upward, vacant eyes” turned to meet the chaos and flooded with furious despair. The planes crashed and with melancholic stupefaction we watched the comfort of our isolation turn brittle and ashen. As the towers crumbled, a new era of fear was born—a modern age of panic, distrust and disenchantment.
In spite of our understandably frenetic emotional reaction to this tragedy, we must recover and regain sober composure. Now more than ever, we must remember the wisdom of Marianne Williamson, who said, “Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure…as we are liberated from our own fear our presence automatically liberates others.”
Let us recognize our immeasurable power. Let us remain stubbornly liberated and thereby continue to liberate the minds of others.
From the smoldering wreckage we must proceed with grace and determination. Our reaction must not be to anxiously isolate ourselves from one another and from the world, but rather to investigate how we inspired such malignant animosity and thereafter do whatever we can to encourage a more harmonious and loving coexistence.
In our anthem we proclaim our country to be the “land of the free, and the home of the brave.” In surrendering to fear, we prove our soil to be neither. We must recognize our fear as the cancer it is and do everything in our immeasurable power to overcome it. Our liberty, and moreover future global harmony, depend on it.