“Active Shooter Confirmed in DC Navy Yard.”
“Shots Confirmed, Gunfire Reported Inside the Building.”
We now live in a tyranny of fear. We are a fearful nation. The United States: afraid of everything. Land of the free and home of the helicopter parents and politicians.
Say it’s not so?
Let’s look at what unfolded Thursday morning.
The mere words; “I thought I heard gunshots” sent a dizzying panic through the nation’s capital. Morning News shows steeped in monophonic Gregorian chants about the presidential elections quickly changed gears and had the scoop: a shooter at the Navy Yard, again. The city went into lockdown, nervous leaders calling their security personnel demanding action against the terrorists.
Alas, there was none.
There was no shooter. There was no terrorism. There was a histrionic, knee jerk reaction to a phantom.
Quickly thereafter the news shifted back to the chanting and refocusing on ISIS, ISIL, Al Qaeda et al.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re sitting here a week from today talking about an attack over the weekend in the United States. That’s how serious this is,” said Michael Morell the former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Clearly he would know. But he didn’t make his assessment in his former capacity. No, Mr. Morell made his assessment as the security correspondent on CBS. So my question is what will be the surprise about next week if nothing happens?
Waiting to exhale, crisis averted, lets focus on some more conjurings.
This is America in 2015, the 239th year of our Independence.
We record everything that takes place. We spy on our own people. We spent trillions of dollars we don’t have on a threat that is less likely to kill you than getting hit by lightning. In fact Americans are 69 times more likely to die in their tubs than at the hands of the maniacal evil genius terrorists.
I cannot help but be sarcastic. We are quickly becoming a half assed nation. No real strategy, no discipline, no resilience; a weak nation.
And now General Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff tells us his guidance from the honorable Mr. Carter is to prepare for the long war. The U.S. military needs to reorganize itself and prepare for war that has no end in sight. We have been at war — hot, warm, and cold — since 1941.
Um, that’s like 75 years…so what is long? And gentlemen, what does victory look like?
We’re screwed. We can no longer even let our kids play in a park or walk home. Not because of the threats. No, it is because of the mere idea there is danger everywhere…danger and legislation.
When we are attacked again, because clearly that is likely, what limited civil liberties we do still have will be usurped not by evil geniuses wearing turbans but by Americans wearing Brooks Brother suits. And it will be done in the guise of our safety and security.
If I save money every pay period in the form of cash and then go to redeposit, I am suspected of nefarious activity. If my tracked behavior changes in any way, I am highlighted. If I purchase one way tickets via air, rail, or bus or simply travel too much, or post anything derogatory against the prevailing culture, meme, or trend, I am dangerous. Before my eyes I am seeing a nation that “had it all” piss it away. We have lost our moxie and courage and live for the sound byte. A bit of hyperbole on my part, but it is required to illustrate our current state.
We are fearful. And, we have become diagnostically insecure.
In one sense, security is the measured resistance to or protection from harm. Security is also a state of mind, a physiological/psychological symbiosis. We have spent much treasure trying to quantify what is difficult to qualify. If security is a biological state of being and a relational state in ones environment than how can it be quantified? This is where we find ourselves now.
This is becoming a bad Seligman and Maier’s experiment where our perpetual learned helplessness is resulting in the realization that we have little of control over the outcome or state of affairs we find ourselves in and are constantly bombarded with conditioning to be afraid.
“Fatigue gentlemen, makes cowards of us all.” Vince Lombardi
Being constantly consumed with the idea that at any moment an existential threat will evaporate the United States is fatiguing; so much so that we begin to exist in a chronic state of fear.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Let us remember this Independence Day that the very idea of Independence — freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others — must be embraced and cultivated and not taken for granted. It is a quintessential American ideal: to be independent. Independence is not being influenced or controlled by others in matters of opinion, conduct, etc. It is thinking and acting for oneself.
Independence is not yielding to another’s authority or jurisdiction. It is not influenced by the thought or action of others: Independence is possessing competence.
Fear negates all the aforementioned. Fear drives wedges, undercuts, and dissipates. Fear makes cowards of us all. Therefore, let’s all remind one another that we are a Nation that declared themselves free of fear, tyranny, and oppression. Let’s also remind ourselves that if being afraid is our method for preserving our independence, than we have summarily lost it.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Happy Independence Day.