Anything left worth fighting for?

Published 10:02 am Wednesday, June 19, 2013

“Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”
Patrick Henry
Richmond, Va.
March 23, 1775

In many ways, almost none of them good, the world has changed significantly since September 11, 2001. Few of those changes, aside from specific inconveniences while traveling, have had any real or meaningful impact on how many of us live our daily lives. More likely they are changes in how we view the world in which we live. For even if we are no more safe or at risk today than we were prior to that fateful day, the mere knowledge that there are those in the world hell bent on The United States’ destruction and the death of its people was a new and frightening thought for many Americans.

For nearly twelve years now, Americans have been forced to answer the question of what cost they are willing to pay to ensure national security and safety. Recent revelations that federal intelligence agencies, and specifically the National Security Agency, have secretly been combing through and compiling information regarding phone records and Internet communications have reenergized the debate.

General Keith Alexander, director of the NSA, on Tuesday stated that these secret data-gathering programs had thwarted at least 50 separate terrorist threats since the 2001 attacks. The leaders of the House Intelligence Committee vigorously defended the programs as well.

It is a question well worth asking, whether personal liberty and freedom from oppression are a fair price to pay for enhanced national security. But we best be cautious in how we answer, for each and every ounce of freedom we give away to our government, which now operates in historically unchecked fashion while promising our personal safety in return, is one we will likely never get back. At some point we may find ourselves asking, if after all we have given away in the name of security, do we still have anything left worth fighting for?