In the years since the September 11 attacks, the federal government has taken measures to make the public feel secure against terrorism. Monday’s bombings should serve as a tragic reminder of just how vulnerable we are as a country. The security measures put in place after 9/11 did their job: they gave us back our sense of security. It’s a pain in the neck to go through the security line at the airport, but we go about our day feeling just a little bit safer because we know that someone is looking out for us. It’s still too early to draw any conclusions about who set off the bombs or why.
The images flooding the 24-hour news cycle are images that we expect from places like Iraq or Afghanistan — images of innocent citizens fleeing for their lives, when just moments ago, they were living their lives. The streets were literally red with blood. I’m left wondering how this attack will figure into the future for all of us. Will there be annual memorials? Will there be a follow-up special 10 years later, asking, “Where are they now?” All evidence suggests that the Boston Marathon will go on next year, as it has for the past 117 years. Maybe that’s the best course of action: We continue our lives, refusing to let fear dictate our actions, all the while remembering that we must be proactive instead of reactive.
Most of us never questioned our safety in the pre-9/11 world, but now we are hypervigilant when it comes to our mass transportation. How far will our fear take us this time? We, as a nation, have to start thinking about preventing tragedies instead of reacting to them. No one is perfect, and no one system is perfect. It’s most likely a tribute to our security system that we have seen terrorist plots thwarted. We will never be able to prevent every act of violence, but our own recent history has shown that when we build an efficient system of prevention, lives are saved.
As we wait for new details to help explain what happened and who is responsible, we will begin to draw a more complete understanding of what went wrong. We will feel compelled to try and fix every hole that this attack reveals. We must make sure that the lesson we learn from this event is one of observance and logistics. But above all, we have to learn how to better protect ourselves instead of letting our fear run rampant.
Brionne Powell is a freshman political science major at Drexel University. She can be contacted at [email protected]