To begin with, my friend in London is safe. Chris, who my friends and I always refer to as “British Chris” for some reason, was unharmed in the bombings that took place this morning. More than that is hard to come by as Chris is notoriously bad at communicating with people. In fact, the only way we found out was through this enlightening entry on his blog.
What with the increase of government subsidized fear for mass-transit, there was the typical confusion and preparation to go through in order to make sure we were in compliance with the appropriate emergency security standards at work. For obvious reasons, I will not discuss the details of those security preparations for public viewing. I spent the rest of my day double-checking that all the drivers were following the elevated security procedures.
You know, a lot of people have said, “The world changed after 9/11.” I disagree. I think the world has always been like this, these kinds of travesties and terrorist attacks have been happening all over the world. I think 9/11 just made us aware that we were also touchable, that we did not live on a fairy tale island while all the madness stayed on distant shores. I think it really sunk home that we are part of the world, and that we are affected by what ourselves and other nations do out there.
This came as a shock to great number of Americans, and those citizens had a tendency to panic. Panic bred paranoia, and paranoia bred concepts like “enemy combatants” and the Patriot Act. Fear will divide and weaken a frightened nation, making it open to dangerous suggestions. A scared population will agree to anything, and scared leaders tend to react by taking away liberty and consolidating power in their hands. I think of all the civil liberties we are at risk of losing every day due to our fears as a nation, and I worry where it could lead us.
We DO need increased vigilance when we detect a threat, but I look with admiration at the stoic manner in which Britain’s population reacted to the attack and I wonder if we have a role model across the ocean. There was no mass panic, no terror, they just did what had to be done.
I am sure the British will track down those individuals responsible for today’s bombings, but what is significant is that they reacted in a way that effectively cheated those psychopathic murderers out of what they wanted most: fear.
The goal of terrorism is the promotion of fear and terror in order to achieve political goals. Maybe, the key to beating terrorism has less to do with our military and more to do with our reaction to terrorist acts. If there is no resulting panic, all terrorists do is expose themselves and eventually we can do what must be done.
I am not smart enough or informed enough to explain what changes we should make to our foreign policy, politics or military strategy. I have opinions, but they are just opinions. All I am saying is that there is one thing I do know we can do to fight terrorism, and every citizen can do it. We all get to choose how we react to things, and if we make choices like the British have today we help cripple terrorism.
Thinking about these things, I was very proud of my drivers today, as they professionally and calmly initiated the elevated security precautions. I think there is hope that America may yet learn from Britain’s wonderful example.
No panic. No fear. Just do what must be done.