The spark and the blaze [security]

orilliapacket.com – news/column
September 10, 2011.   By Jacob Kearey-Moreland Special to The Packet

Recent comments by Stephen Harper suggest the primary threat to our security post 9/11 is still “radical Muslims.”

The best way to make Canadians feel secure is to push through anti-terrorism legislation as well as continuing high levels of national security and military spending.

It is like skin-care commercials that advertise products that guarantee healthy-looking skin, but evidence shows that when applied, they actually harm you down the road.

Harper is gambling that most Canadians would rather feel safe than actually be safe, just as most consumers would prefer healthy-looking skin over healthy skin itself. It is an important distinction that characterizes this government’s marketing strategy. One can see it in the ongoing national security debate and the Conservatives tough-on-crime agenda.

I contend that one of the greatest threats to our lives, personal freedom and the general security of life on this planet is Harper’s neo-conservative policies and approach to governing.

This is why: As prime minister of Canada, one of the most influential countries on Earth, he is responsible for our collective power as a nation. By focusing our national attention on the supposed threat of radical Muslims, Harper does little more than creating a scapegoat and diverting attention away from the real issues. This political style further divides us, perpetuates dangerous stereotypes and fosters racist and mistrusting attitudes against Muslims. Altogether, the effect of the strategy has the potential to radicalize an already marginalized segment of society.

While a compelling argument can be made that Harper’s comments, and the “War on Terror” actually causes more violence and death than it prevents, the real threat is our narrow-minded understanding of security.

As a young person growing up in this society, I fear not the threat of terrorism, but rather the threat of rapid global climate change, environmental pollution, world hunger, child poverty and growing inequality resulting in attacks on freedom and opportunity. All of these threats in actuality increase the likelihood of war and terrorism.

With the bigger picture in mind, national security can only be understood in relation to environmental, food, job, housing and social security. Ask those in Goderich, Slave Lake or the melting Arctic if they think Muslims are their biggest threat. How about the millions of children who go hungry every day? Do you think they are scared of “Islamacism”? What about all of those who have recently lost their jobs, homes and families?

As a global civilization, national security means nothing without international security. Due to the interconnectedness of our global culture, insecurity anywhere means insecurity everywhere.

Under the guise of international security, western governments combined have spent trillions of dollars just in the last decade fighting multiple wars in the Middle East. Prior, they were spending billions arming and training the people they are fighting now. This is more than enough resources to feed, clothe, educate and provide security for all the world’s children to grow strong and, in turn, create a better, safer world.

This is a dream, of course, as freely nourishing, liberating and empowering the youth of the world inherently works against the interests of corporate profits and those at the wheel. Hence, we need a new vehicle of change complete with new drivers and direction.

A national security strategy that lacks an understanding of the root causes of violence is doomed to failure and will perpetuate the cycle.

It takes more courage and strength to forgive someone than to fight back. We must not confuse the spark for the blaze. As life burns on this planet, our leaders keep pouring on the gas. For the love of life, people, when will we remove the coals and simply add water?

Jacob Kearey-Moreland is a local resident and student at the University of Toronto studying philosophy and sociology. His founding and co-ordinating of Orillia Community Gardens demonstrates a sustainable alternative to current monetary-market economics. Contact him at jakop79@hotmail.com.

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