Friday, December 28, 2007

I'm not getting it

I've been thinking about all the stuff we do in this society that's supposed to make us safer. We waterboard people, we forbid shampoo on airplanes, and make people show photo ID to get into office buildings, but we're still deathly afraid of terrorism. We make sexual offenders register online, ban them from using the Internet and forbid them from living, working, socializing or driving with X feet of playgrounds, schools and bus stops, but we're still worried about the safety of children. People move to the furthest reaches of suburbia and buy guns until there are as many firearms as people, yet they still won't let their kids walk to school.

If you ask me (Yeah, I know you didn't. Shut up.), the real problem is not the threat of terrorism, child molesters and crime, but the fear of those threats. It's one thing to make sure nobody's bringing handguns onto airplanes, and quite another to start torturing people who might or might not know anything about a terrorist plot of which we have only vague information. The former is appropriate prudence; the latter, a prime example of a nation so consumed by fear that it's lost its moral compass.

Fear's a tough thing, and like everyone I've had to grapple with it. There are times, particularly in this last year, when I want to take the people I care about and lock us all in an impenetrable container where no one ever dies. That's no way to live, though. If chancing the terrorist means I won't have to show my passport to get into a damned office building, or that I won't need to surrender my habeas corpus rights, then I say it's a deal. The terrorist can only kill me once; from fear I can die a thousand deaths.

New favorite lyric:

"It's hard not to think about you
To keep you off my mind
It's hard to live in a world without you
And it's getting harder, it's getting harder
It's getting harder all the time"

Artist: The Mindbenders (Charles Albertine/Ben Raleigh)
Song: It's Getting Harder All The Time
Album: Soundtrack of "To Sir With Love"

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