So be it
If the war against terrorism is a war at all, it is like the cold war — one that will last for decades. Although a real threat exists, to let security trump liberty in every case would corrode the civilised world’s sense of what it is and wants to be..
Locking up suspected terrorists — and why not potential murderers, rapists and paedophiles, too? — before they commit crimes would probably make society safer. Dozens of plots may have been foiled and thousands of lives saved as a result of some of the unsavoury practices now being employed in the name of fighting terrorism. Dropping such practices in order to preserve freedom may cost many lives. So be it.
The Economist, The real price of freedom
The deep ethical crisis I’ve been immersed for some weeks now started when I realized that, ultimately, ethics is not a necessity, it’s a stand. You can’t judge without PREjudices. You are never guaranteed to be on the absolute right path, there is no such abstract thing. Your prejudices — your self — determine a range of trajectories, a train of self. And that’s that.
Our values are in practice a deeply enmeshed, deeply correlated network with no one most important end. Every value has its price, is outweighed eventually by some combination of other values. Far from urging us into hasty, thoughtless expediency, this should sober us: we concede when we have more to lose if we not — are we giving our values away at a discount?
That question is what the quote above is about. Liberty is both what civilization is and wants to be, for some of us. Terrorism has recently highlighted for us how dear its cost can be. It is not our nature to bear burdens and so we shall never stop looking for ways around them. But if it comes down to it, we wil bear freedom’s burden.