Then and Now -- Security
When I was a child, we were undoubtedly the most powerful country in the world. Our borders were safe. The iron curtain existed, but posed no real threat.
It was not until I was 12 and the Cuban missiles were pointed at us that I first learned to be afraid. That was the era of the fallout shelter. A few people even in my little town in Florida dug them in their back yard in preparation for a nuclear attack. But we prevailed against the Cubans and finally the iron curtain came down and we no longer felt threatened by the Soviets.
It was really not until the attacks of 9/11 that we realized we weren’t safe after all. The events of that day ushered in a paranoia that continues to permeate American society.
I am convinced that we could repay the national debt if we had all the money that has subsequently gone into homeland security. We have a new cabinet level agency for that purpose. Our airports have taken on the air of a maximum security prison. Our public buildings have all been fortified. We have initiated profiling at every juncture (although we can’t call it that). Our days are now color-coded to indicate the threat level. All of this is supposed to assure the American public of their safety.
Meanwhile we wait for the next big attack and wonder where it will occur. We hope the wiretaps will flush out the terrorists before they can unleash their latest weapons. Or that some observant policeman will spot a smoking car before the bomb goes off.
And those of us who can remember wish we could return to a time when we weren’t so afraid of the world to come.