Thinking Through National Security

–We must find a way to reconcile national security and individual rights lest freedom as we know it be impaired–A recent survey says that 39% of the U.S. electorate believes that our legal system worries too much about protecting individual rights over national security. This means that individual rights, the cornerstone of the Constitution’s Bill of Rights, and a shining example of freedom to the world, can, according to almost 40% of voters, be trumped by national security. It makes one wonder if the Bill of Rights would be able to pass voters’ approval today. The concern over national security is real. We do live in an era where terrorism cannot be forgotten. To be more clear than simplistic, one must admit that there are some very bad people out there. We must recognize that issues of national security reach deep into our feeling of safety and feeling safe is an understood basic need. The psychologist Abraham Maslow ranked it right after food and shelter. But we must also be wise enough to see through the arguments of those who misuse national security to reinforce their own agendas or pre-conceived notions—a reminder of how the Taliban initially gains a foothold in an area, by promising safety. How pollsters phrase a question does influence how it is answered. But deeper than the use of words are the principles involved. National security without individual rights does not lead to the freedom that we hail, seek and strive for. We must think through how to preserve both strengthened by the knowledge that it is not only possible, it is necessary.