Thursday, April 21, 2011

Security Theatre's New Season

So, the new Department of Homeland Security wants to scrap the old, color-coded terror alert levels. Napolitano brought up a great point:

"We've been at 'orange' since 2006."

I always found that color-coordinated stuff nonsense, and I remember it changing every once in a while to remind Americans to fear, fear, fear. I believe it was counterproductive, the equivalent of crying "wolf" constantly for years.

Don't get me wrong, I don't expect to be a fan of the new system, either. All this is, in my opinion, more theatre. Maybe it comes from those American people who allow themselves to believe that they can outsource vigilance to a government agency so they don't have to worry about it personally. Maybe it is the government, who wants to advertise that they're doing something of value to the taxpayer without people looking too closely. Maybe it is a combination of both.

I only know this: you are never perfectly safe. Never. You never have been, you never will be, and no amount of complaining too or about the government is going to change that. They have limited resources to act proactively and reactively to those things that go bump in the night. While you are right to expect those actions to work effectively and continuously to help minimize risks to society as a whole and to work towards justice after the fact, you cannot abdicate your responsibility to participate in your own personal safety.

Now, you can let your fear of non-safety rule your life, or you can deal with it and pay attention to your surroundings, mitigating your risk as much as you can within reason, and understanding that sometimes no amount of preparation will ever be enough.

The answer isn't an overactive, color-coded government. The answer isn't to live your life in fear and never enjoy things because you're worried about events beyond your control. The answer is a society where everyone is, on average, a little bit vigilant; a society where people are more educated and less fearful, more involved in their communities and less alienated from each other, and use more common sense to pay more attention to their surroundings.


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