Without doubt, the greatest threat to the United States today is public fear, which has the capacity to undermine rational thought and action, along with the liberty on which we most pride ourselves.
After 9/11, "terrorism" became a watchword by which the government could accomplish any task to which it set its attention. Most notably, of course, is the U.S.A. P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act of 2001, which gave the government powers of detainment, surveillance and invasion of privacy, the likes of which have not been contemplated since Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War.
Further, fear has spawned violence. Fear of terrorism led to the war in Afghanistan; fear of nuclear attack led to the invasion of Iraq in the absence of solid evidence. Fear has therefore led to a squandering of the American reputation abroad, the alienation of our allies and the opinion of many citizens of the world that America stands apart, interested only in itself, not the greater good.
Fear has spawned animosity along political lines: Republicans accuse Democrats of being too soft on supposed terrorists, Democrats counter that Republicans are warmongers. This has, in part, led to a polarization of both parties; national representation has lost any semblance of bipartisan centricity it may once have enjoyed and has, instead, become akin to the squabbling of children on a playground. At least the children can get along for their mutual enjoyment.
In the wake of the loss of freedoms, effective governance, reputation and esteem, what can America do to right herself and bring her people back to whatever glory is vested in her flag and the memories of those who have defended it?
Simply put, the people must be informed. They must realize that there is nothing to fear, or that that which there is to fear is surmountable and worthy of rational attention. Rather than the knee-jerk reactions that have lately become so typical of the American government, the people can demand logical, researched proposals that have the possibility to lead to measurable change.
We can shirk our fear of terrorism; the last effective terrorist attack on American soil was the very day that spawned our terror. Since 9/11, no attack has succeeded and attempts have been foiled not by the military or the civil defense forces, but by civilians. American men and women have the hearts of lions; they need not cower at the mention of a word.
We can recall that liberty comes from the mandate of the people. It's in the nature of government to constantly seek more power. The American people need only realize that it is their own sovereign right to deny that search and retain that power. Any ounce of freedom relinquished in America must be given freely, and has been. We can retake it.
In short, as mothers have told frightened children for years, there is nothing to be afraid of. Let America stand, backs straight, heads high and be counted among the thinking, brave new world.