Sunday, April 21, 2013

There are No Answers

The New Barbarians

In ancient times, and even up through the renaissance, people lived in walled cities to keep the barbarians out. They still do it today in places like Afghanistan. Civilization inside; barbarians outside. It was a simple concept, but it doesn't work in America. The barbarians are on the inside. With apologies to Walt Kelly, the barbarians are us.

Yeah, we need a security apparatus, but let's put resources in the right places. Post-911, every podunk police force is decked out like a Hollywood SWAT Team or a bad imitation of an overweight Navy SEAL Team, complete with mini urban tanks and airborne drones.

After the Boston bombing, we're hearing statements like this one from Chris Stirewalt:
"Americans had again grown complacent."
I hate statements like that. Complacency is one of the luxuries of living within the walls of civilization. Indeed, a rightful boast of police and military personnel is that they remain vigilant so the rest of us can be at ease. Civilized society vanquishes anarchy and banishes worries of safety and survival, freeing us to pursue love, social bonding and human achievement, to the betterment of ourselves and our fellow human beings.

It is a sad world we live in when we expect everyone to be on a hair-trigger, ever-vigilant, and to have a checklist full of contingency plans.

I find Allen G. Breed's statement disturbing, but I cannot disagree with it:
"this is a nation of "soft targets," full of opportunities for those who want to do it harm." (AP News)
This creates an "armor up" psychology in our society among people who should never have to preoccupy themselves with such worries. And many don't even armor up correctly. They instead encase themselves in MTV-poser bluff and rudeness, or harbor irrational fears of statistically improbable events.

What it has done to some of us:
"When you go through so much trauma, your perspective on life changes, your belief system changes," Busch says. "You lose your innocence and, at the same time, you go back to a point of innocence. ... It's like you just want to go home, and your definition of home is different."  (AP News)
This is a healthy attitude:
"And so the message Tamara Ruben sought to convey to her third- through seventh-graders as they celebrated Israeli Independence Day Tuesday at Temple Beth El Mekor Chayim outside New York City was to not let fear rule them - "that as much as possible not to let this event to dictate our daily life and make us afraid and paranoid and change drastically our style of life."

"Enjoy the simple things - the simple things that give us contentment and joy in life," says Ruben, director of the synagogue's school." (
AP News)
Paul LaRuffa, who survived five bullets from the DC snipers, sums up the inherent vulnerability of life:
"We can't arm every square foot of everywhere."

"We don't want to live in a country where there ARE no soft targets," he says. "There will always be evil, and we can't get rid of it. We can try like hell to lessen it, but there are limits to what we can do and what we should do." (
AP News)
My favorite quote comes Kent Kornmeyer a 55, year old singer and waiter who attended Boston College and lives in Beverly Hills, California:
“My attitude, then and now, is if you want me, come get me,” he said of would-be terrorists. “You’re not going to change the way I live my life.” (Bloomberg)

No comments: