Choose liberty over fear

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Fear is the greatest threat to liberty.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said that "the only thing we have to fear, is fear itself."

But today, we are a nation that lives in fear, for many reasons, but foremost among them is the threat of terrorism, from both home and abroad.

Since 9/11, we've actually been pretty lucky. Terrorism has been largely short-circuited, although, as the Times Square bombing proved, it's often been a matter of simply dodging the bullet.

But the fear of terrorism has led to a slow but steady decline in civil liberties. We have come to accept, for example, constant surveillance and searches of our bodies and property, even though the Constitution prohibits such searches without a warrant issued for just cause. In times of crisis, when the level of fear is highest, the Constitution becomes very malleable.

For the sake of security, we willingly give up liberty, even though, as Benjamin Franklin once said, "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

If we let fear erode our American ideals of liberty, then the terrorists win, even if they never detonate another bomb in our lifetimes. Because once a liberty is lost, it is very difficult to recover.

Being an American comes with certain risks. It is part of living in a land of liberty. We cannot let our liberties slowly disappear for the chimera of security.

We must not let fear rule us. The politicians who have been taking away our liberties apparently believe Americans have no courage. We say they do. We say that Americans have the courage to stand up and face the worst that any terrorist can throw at us, to persevere in the face of adversity.

But if we are to protect ourselves, we must first protect our liberties. It is time to set the fear aside. It is time to show our courage and our belief in our core value of American liberty. It we do so, the terrorists can never win.

-- Kelly Everitt