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Monday, September 11, 2006

These Last Five Years

"These last five years have been horrendous," said Kathy Maloney, widow of Joseph E. Maloney. Joseph was a firefighter with Ladder Company 3 in Manhattan and he died during the attacks on the World Trade Center.

Kathy was speaking about her personal reality since she lost her husband, but the statement feels like it fits for all of Western civilization. But what is really interesting about the last five years is how little daily life in the United States has changed. The economy has been pretty strong, New York is booming, our prolific consumption of goods and services proceeds apace. The largest attack of the war on civilization didn't put the U.S. on war footing. There is no rationing, no war bond rallies, no calls for sacrifice. How deeply have we felt the pain of our fellow citizens who lost loved ones on that day?

The fine young people that are fighting and dying in Iraq and Afganistan are volunteers. There is no conscription so the majority of us don't have a direct connection to our fellow citizens who are fighting. The Iraq war looks like a massive mistake; Afganistan is suffering from inattention and is backsliding. And I am beginning to wonder if the terrorist threat is being pumped up, hyped for some reason. There were no deaths from terrorist attacks in the United States in 2005. There were 43,443 people killed in U.S. automobile accidents in 2005. Why should I be more afraid of terrorists than I am of automobiles?

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