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America Is About More Than Safety

America Is About More Than Safety

Written by Jarod K. Anderson
Submitted to 614NOW OP-ED


I’m sick of the notion that President Trump’s travel ban can be defended solely on the basis that it might make our nation safer. Being safe is not an American ideal. Being brave in order to accomplish good is an American ideal. Most acts of goodness, charity, and humanity run counter to pure considerations of personal security.

If you give money to charity, your own financial situation becomes more vulnerable. If you stop to help somebody on the side of the road, you are risking your safety in the pursuit of a higher ideal. The police officer who works to de-escalate a situation rather than using force as a first resort is being brave in order to do good. The soldier who goes to war to help liberate an oppressed population is sacrificing his or her safety for a higher cause.

I’m disturbed by the argument that a policy that runs counter to the American ideal of helping victims of humanitarian crises is good simply because it might help keep us safer. Is that all American values mean today? Taking the safest path? Let’s set aside the fact that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are far more likely to be the victim of terrorism than the perpetrator of terrorism. At the risk of oversimplifying, the good guys don’t get to be the safe guys. That’s another way in which you need to be ‘the home of the brave’ in order to be ‘the land of the free.’ Compassion is a risk. Love is a risk. Freedom is a risk. They’re worth it.


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