St. Charles Herald-Guide

A way of life many love to hate

By Patrick Yoes - August 17, 2006

These are truly some trying times for Americans. For most of us, it is also a very patriotic time filled with pride. For the rest of you, well, I guess it is a troubled time torn between your antiwar beliefs and hopefully being supportive of the thousands of our servicemen and women maintaining peace in a troubled region.

Our nation is once again put on alert for terrorist attacks. The highly publicized attempt by extremists to blow up ten US bound planes, foiled by British officials, once again illustrates how we have become a country that others love to hate. To make their statement, they are willing to not only kill hundreds of innocent people, they are also willing to give their lives doing so.

Since September 11, 2001, we have been warned, re-warned, cautioned and put on alert of possible future terrorist attacks. With each false call and each success in our pursuit of stomping out terrorism, we become more and more desensitized to the growing risk associated with our undertakings.

Fast food restaurants are one of the most stable industries in America. Many stores now carry already cooked meals, saving us the trouble of preparation, the list of timesaving amenities that are now commonplace is seemingly endless. We have become an instant gratification society. We sit in Starbucks, sipping on a Grande mocha that cost a week’s wages in most other countries, and complaining about our political leaders and the inconveniences of security checkpoints and travel restrictions.

We are comfortable in our nice homes; eating good meals, watching one of our 70-plus cable TV channels, several of which provide real-time war and post-updates, some even with 24-hour coverage from the front line with roving reporters embedded with our troops.

Our success as a nation is the very thing that makes us a target for terrorism. It is the symbol of freedom, our civil liberties, and our ability to express ourselves that is so appealing to those wishing to make a statement. We enjoy the good life and as such, we are viewed as arrogant, wasteful, overweight, materialistic, and spoiled. One trip to a third-world country to witness the poverty and living conditions, you can easily see how such a label could be placed on us.

Our venerability to terrorist attacks should cause us to take a good hard look at our freedoms and luxuries we take for granted. The extent to which extremists will go to show their hatred towards Americans in this increasingly complex and volatile world has been taken to new heights, nothing is sacred.

If that means I can’t carry toothpaste in my carry on luggage when boarding a flight, that’s a small price to pay for my safety. My guess is… we should get used to inconveniences. Extremists will stop at nothing to destroy our American way of life and we are constantly striving for the freedoms many in this world have come to hate. These two different ideologies are certain to intersect again and again with deadly results.