My Turn: Threats to United States come mainly from within

Posted: Sunday, May 18, 2003

Recently-laid-off American Airlines employees may not feel very confident in the future of America. Twenty-three-hundred pink-slipped flight attendants take a pretty good bite out of a seniority system and includes folks who have paid their dues, especially in an industry gearing up for summer.

Things ain't like they used to be.

Sept. 11, 2001, will be with us forever. We will never have to be reminded of the meaning of 9/11 or how it affects us personally.

We all know that Tuesday as a surreal day of change, but a deeper and more intrinsic question will remain. Did we wake up that morning to a new world or simply to a new stirring in our conscious of a much more stark reality? Could it be we recognized for the first time an entrenched and mounting danger to us and our way of life?

As we should, we focus on our more immediate and local concerns. But we also live with the uncomfortable memory of 9/11 and an awareness of the peril in our lives. Although we wish it weren't so, we know great resources wish us and our allies much harm.

As I'm sure most would agree, there's a vast disparity of wealth in the world today. By "wealth," I mean not only material and financial wealth but perhaps more importantly spiritual wealth, the wealth of social potential or perceived social potential and the wealth of societal infrastructure that nurtures and enhances cultural well being and as a result the world's well being. That infrastructure includes the basics of health care, education, economic potential, security, justice and peace, the foundational needs of all our lives, which tragically are not well balanced throughout mankind.

We are a nation much blessed, but because of our wealth we are also a nation much reviled. Our security and our destiny are far from known.

America has a crucial and unique role in history, not only because of our vast material wealth but more importantly because of our own spiritual wealth. We have a unique destiny because the tenants of our beliefs create the powerful and wonderful spiritual dynamic of who we are. We're a nation founded on the concepts of life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and all people created with equality and inalienable human rights and freedoms. This unequaled chemistry of human and spiritual freedom and vast natural resources has formed a nation with an historic potential for bringing good and balance to the world. History has shown us all the importance of America's potential for good being realized.

That our nation would survive to realize this potential for good remains to be seen. America is truly threatened. Certainly to assume or take for granted our security and survival would hardly seem prudent given the events of the last few years and what we know to be the capability of willing entities to do us harm. We've just taken a step forward but certainly any assurance of our survival is far in the future, perhaps even beyond the horizon of those of us alive today to ever know.

It's important for us and our families, for our friends and neighbors and the well being of humankind that our nation survive and evolve to a place where it might realize its full potential for contributing to and protecting the human condition.

Though some are proffered from abroad, clearly these threats to America come mainly from within, both militarily and socially. We're experiencing the second consecutive administration evoking true vehemence and disdain from its foes. Our own cultural health endeavors have realized limited progress, both locally and nationally. Many of our financial and social institutions are reeling from mismanagement and abuses.

We certainly have our challenges, but our direction as a culture and people is well oriented. Though it may be a two-steps-forward, one-step-back process, we're progressing to a better, healthier place.

The ideal of America has existed at only one point in history and at one place on the planet. Humankind desperately needs our nation to survive and evolve to a realization of its potentials.

America's destiny is in our hands.

Jody Liliedahl is an Alaskan American who embraces the sacredness of our nation in a very insecure world.

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