Once upon a time, we moved through the world around us without fear of noxious gas clouds on subways or gunmen lurking along the highway and even allowed our kids to go to school without the latest bullet proof jacket. But we live in a different world now. Whether it is the Islamist who may be secretly planning the next bio-terrorist event while giving us our change for coffee at the gas station or the quiet friend from a troubled family our kids bring home from school, we are faced with possible - and terrifying - threats to our security every day.
I remember in my bioethics class in college studying possible threats to our society and to what extent we would be willing to accept security trespasses to (almost) guarantee security, safety and most of all, not having to worry. Would we accept security cameras? Body searches? Secret surveillance? And ultimately, here we are all these years later debating the real question: what is the price we are willing to pay for the needful sense of security that enables us to snuggle in bed, smile as we send our kids off to school and drive to work unscathed?
The answer to this question is determined by the extent we have smelled danger lurking outside our own door. I lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma on April 19, 1995. It was around 9 o'clock, and I was heading over to the executive secretary's office to ask her a question. I walked in and instantly knew something was wrong. The President and Vice President of our company were tautly standing next to her desk and each person stared intently at a radio: The Alfred P Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City had just exploded. In utter terror we stood listening as horrific reports of the chaos and destruction as people ran for help, ran for safety, ran for friends, family, coworkers....just ran. Ditto the morning of September 11, 2001. I stood watching the news in our lunch room with the President and Controller of our company, wondering, et tu, Brute?
To me it all feels pretty darn close. Too close. So I am willing to pay for my unterrorized freedom by inconvenience, whether it is being scanned and people seeing my fat rolls or walking through the scanners at the county building. I don't want to be shot, I don't want people I love to be shot. I don't even want people I don't like to be shot. And for that, I'll pay the price.