By Jason Menard
Canadians aren’t ignoring the threat of terrorism in this country. We’re just facing it in our uniquely Canadian way – and doing ourselves proud in the meantime.
Anne McLellan, the federal Public Safety Minister, wants to remind us that Canada is not immune to terrorism, and that The Great White North is a target in the cross-hairs of extremists both internal and external.
And while she’s under the impression that Canadians are living with our heads buried in the sand, we’re actually fighting back with the best weapon we have – living our lives in the best way we can.
There is more to terrorism than just shock and awe tactics. As we should, we get caught up in the immediate tragedy and emotion of an event. The graphic images of the London bombings tug at our heartstrings and we weep for the loss of innocent lives. And, for many of us, the events of September 11, 2001 will always be our Kennedy Assassination – a moment in time when we’ll always remember where we were and how we felt.
But these moments, no matter how shocking and tragic they may be, are just the initial wound. The true goal of terrorism isn’t to spill blood – it is to infect the very lifeblood that we cherish and destroy us from within.
A bomb blast turns the cameras of the world towards their cause. But once the cameras have moved on to the next story, that’s when the true effects of terrorism are felt. When an act of terrorism forces you to change the way you live your life, that’s the moment when terrorism wins.
No matter how tragic, a bomb blast is a moment in time – a means to an end. How we deal with aftereffects are what will determine whether or not we win the war.
The goal of terrorism is not the mindless slaughter of innocents – it’s a strategic tactic designed to destabilize a country. If a bomb blast can destabilize an economy and precipitate conditions to bring down a non-sympathetic government, then the terrorists’ job is done. It isn’t a question of fearing when biological weapons will be used – the recognition should be that they have, in a sense, already been deployed. If you can infect from within, sowing the seeds of doubt and fear, then eventually the body will fall. If our country succumbs to fear, then the insidious effects of terrorism will have taken effect.
Does that mean we’re turning a blind eye to terrorism? Do we blindly continue our lives believing that Canada’s a Utopia free from the threats and risks that plague the Western World? Not at all. Due diligence is need to ensure that we protect ourselves against the threats of terrorism as best we can.
But that doesn’t mean we need to live in fear. The moment someone in Moose Jaw sees a person of Arabic descent walking down the street and wonders, even for a passing moment, whether they’re a terrorist, then we’ve already started losing the battle. Yes, we need to do a better job monitoring our ports and borders, but the best weapon the average Canadian can wield is the ability to enjoy our freedom.
Just like a common cold, there is no immunization from terrorism. Sure, you could shut yourself up in a hermetically sealed room and avoid all contact with the outside world – but what kind of life is that? Similarly, do we need to live in a Canada ruled by fear – a police state wherein suspicion, not compassion, is the governing tactic?
As Ben Franklin said, “those who are willing to sacrifice essential freedom for security deserve neither.” Can we really say that our friends south of the border are winning the war against terrorism when there is a constant heightened sense of alert issued by the government? Even after a terrorist attack, the best way to fight back isn’t to restrict our lives (with a Patriot Act for example), but to go back to living our lives the way we were before it ever happened.
Despite Ms. McClellan’s beliefs, Canadians aren’t oblivious to the danger posed to this nation by terrorists. However, we’re not willing to change the way we live our lives and to spend our precious days on this Earth living in fear.
The moment we change the way we live our lives is the moment that the battle has been lost. Canadians don’t believe we’re invulnerable to terrorism, but we’re certainly not going to let fear be the driving force behind our lives.
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