[C]ourage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. ~ Nelson Mandela
In the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, we’ve witnessed an outpouring of support, empathy, and concern for the French people, as well as another round of sorrow and fear gripping the hearts of those of us living in the free world.
When these terrorists strike and kill, they win a battle. But they cannot win the greater war unless we allow our fear to turn us against the very freedom we claim to value.
I worry when I see people take to social media and propose that our governments take radical steps and Constitutional shortcuts to protect us and to defeat the enemy.
If we collectively sanction infringing upon the rights we value—rights that are, in fact, woven into our daily way of life—what have we won? I’d argue we’ve won nothing (not even the security we’re seeking) and, in fact, have lost more than just a battle. If we give in to fear and roll over our rights, then the terrorists succeed in robbing us of the very freedom that gives us our voice and our collective power.
I think it’s unrealistic to expect freedom from terror or war. No civilization in history has ever truly enjoyed that. No decade has ever been devoid of a war somewhere in the world. Violence is, unfortunately, a part of human nature, of culture, of history, and of power. And the truth is that none of us knows how and when our time will end. Statistically I’m still much more likely to die in a car crash or of an illness than I am as the victim of a horrific terrorist attack. Those are the cold, hard truths of life, so I choose to try to live mine with honor and integrity, surrounded by people I love, and pursuing the things in life that matter to me.
I am not smart or educated enough to offer a single solution to the complex and frightening puzzle of terrorism. I do not pretend we can negotiate with fanatics to resolve the problem. I believe it will take decisive, forceful action undertaken collectively by every government that values the lives of its citizenry in order to make any progress. And I believe we, as a society, must be courageous enough to move forward without sacrificing the very rights that make our nation what it has always been: the land of the free, and the home of the brave.