POSTED ON APRIL 24, 2013:
Let Freedom Ring
Entering a new and violent world
Once again, we have seen what we all know but often try to forget: the more freedom we have, the more vulnerable we are. Whether it's the freedom to attend school, run a marathon, go to work, or go to the movies, we are reminded that danger can be anywhere.
As long as we continue to protect and pursue our freedoms, we will have to get accustomed to the danger that comes with them. Because for each of us who cherishes his freedom, there is someone out there who wants to take it away. The bombing in Boston is one more example of what we may have to accept as our vulnerability and new reality. Violence in our country's history is not new, though bombings are. Sadly, we may become a nation with the motto that we are the land of the free, the home of the brave, and bachelor pad of the scared.
With such an open society, one wonders why we have not seen this type of attack at stadiums, shopping malls, parades, concerts, or any other venue where large, unprotected groups congregate. In fact, it has been reported that since 9/11, over 50 such acts have been detected and stopped.
The fact that there have not been more of these attacks may have lulled us into a false sense of security. We know, for example, that the people of Israel are always on guard and on alert for attacks. When the Boston bombing occurred, we were terrified and shocked. Yet in so many places on this earth, attacks like these have been happening for decades. One Boston observer, when asked what it was like, accurately said, "It's like Jerusalem." Well, America, welcome to the old/new world.
Because bombing events in this country are still so very new, those responsible for reporting the news don't know how to cover it. They try to cover every conceivable angle -- whether it's relevant or not. In the 24/7 news cycle, the news being reported is either very repetitive or lacks any real substance. Reporters and anchors guess about the facts and draw conclusions and form their own opinions because they have to keep the news fresh and breaking. When there isn't much new news coming forward, they find every imaginable talking head that has an opinion. It's mind-numbing.
As Americans, we are a very impatient people when it comes to knowing the who and the why of events like the Boston attack. Not only do we prefer instant gratification with all of our needs, but we want instant answers to all of our tragedies. We can't stand to wait, because until we get answers, we can't move on. For us, life is a verb, and we can't stand not moving forward. It's all about that overused word "closure," but there is no closure. We don't really forget. We just move on.
Color Runners throw up B's for Boston.
C C O O U U R R T T E E S SY Y O O F F T T A A T T U U R R R R A A C C I I N N G G
The longer the Boston story lingers, the more we will learn about the injured and the dead. We will mourn for them and some may say that law enforcement and government authorities should have caught or killed the bombers sooner. Again, due to our lack of experience, we are disconnected from this new reality. Some will think it should have been easy to catch the bomber because there were lots of people and cameras around. But we forget that the types of people who commit these heinous acts don't do so carelessly or haphazardly. They know all about the cameras and the crowds and how to avoid detection. They are dressed like the rest of us and just blend right in. And when you add into that scenario the mass chaos of large events, who is paying any attention to anyone else except the people you came with or came to see?
Sometimes, people would probably like to hear their public officials sound angry rather than being so composed when they stand up to talk about these tragedies. How many times have we heard the phrase, "The people responsible for this will be punished to the fullest extent of the law"? Who is that really addressed to? If it's the killers, they aren't planning on being caught. If it's to the rest of us, we don't need a robotic politician to spout the same line we've heard numerous times before. Maybe once in awhile, a public official could say, "We will track you down, find you, and we will kill you if necessary. You are now wanted dead or alive." In our leaders we want to see both sadness and anger because that's how we feel.
Fortunately for the citizens of this country, we have some of the most well-prepared emergency responders and crime fighters in the world. Though it may be difficult to predict how or when another Boston attack will occur, it is not difficult for us to be prepared and to respond if or when it happens again. Watching the heroism of ordinary citizens, the bravery of our law enforcement and firefighters, or the relentless efforts by our medical professionals to save lives really is a testament to the greatest of America.
While touring America in the 19th century, Alexis de Tocqueville observed that America is great because America is good, and that is something that will never be taken from us by any terrorist. Similar to the national bonding that occurred across this country following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 or on New York in 2001, the more we are attacked within our borders, the more we remember that we are one united country. We often forget that when we are divided over issues of gun control, marriage, taxes, spending, and those in government who are bickering. All of that seems so important until there is a Newtown or Boston or Aurora or New York City.
The only thing worth remembering and cherishing is that no one loves America and Americans like we love each other and this country. No one else is coming to our aid. No one else is coming to defend us. No one else is sending us troops or money. We are the symbol of freedoms which people all over the world would love to have and will die pursuing.
Freedom can be dangerous and certainly is not free. In the end, the Boston tragedy should remind all of us of that.
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