Sacrifice rights for temporary safety
Published: Monday, November 19, 2001
Updated: Friday, June 15, 2012 23:06
Our nation is, in most ways, blessed to have the Bill of Rights and the profound freedom of self-determination and personal liberty. According to some, the war we are fighting in Afghanistan does not support the rights of the Afghan people since innocent civilians have been casualties of war.
In addition, many believe the rights of American citizens are being trampled in order to bring about a desired result. While civil rights are important, it is necessary to consider the rights of the people on both fronts.
In Afghanistan, televisions have been banned, and the only radio station is owned and operated by the Taliban, as are the state newspapers. Music is no longer allowed, singing is forbidden, and entertainment facilities financed by the United Nations are being used for executions. Women are denied access to basic health care and education, and they are not permitted to leave their homes without a male family member.
In the United States, it may be argued that we possess more freedoms than citizens of any other country in the world. While some feel our rights are being impinged in order to fight terrorism, a temporary extension of the government's powers should be acceptable.
For those who believe in allowing government to operate in the most limited form possible, it is necessary to mention that without a properly functioning, strong, central government, the people in the United States would not have the means by which to defend themselves in this time of need. The responsibilities we delegate to our federal government could only be fully executed by that body, and in order to do this we often must give up some of our own rights for the good of the whole.
When the war in Afghanistan is complete, the world will hopefully be able to establish a government for the Afghan people to allow them to experience civil liberties. This opportunity must especially be explored for the women of this oppressed society. Those living under the rule of the Taliban are perhaps not even able to imagine the freedoms we experience here. Yet we are unwilling to temporarily provide our government with the powers necessary to assist us in our war, and simultaneously work toward liberation for the Afghan people.
Do our citizens take for granted the liberties we possess to such an extent that we are not capable of giving some of ourselves to provide liberty for others? I hope our nation has not yet reached such a point of selfishness.
Any extended powers should not be permanent, and it is important to reiterate the need for any extreme powers to include a sunset provision. Considering this, it will be the responsibility of the citizens of the United States to elect or re-elect representatives to support the constituents' desires. Assuming the citizens will decide in the future that extended powers should cease, those elected to represent us should respect this desire. If we find that our elected officials are not properly representing our wishes, we may express our discontent at the voting booth. Not everything has to be permanent — war does not linger on forever, nor does peace – and neither should any extended powers we choose to give to our government in this time of need.
As we permit our government to operate with the necessary tools to win our war on terror, our minuscule and temporary sacrifice will eventually allow the people of Afghanistan to experience some freedoms of their own. While we cannot expect their people to have the opportunity to enjoy and treasure all of the civil liberties we take for granted here, it is possible to lessen the restrictions and constraints on the people of Afghanistan.
As we honor our veterans and appreciate the freedoms bestowed upon us, we should not forget the citizens on the other side of the world when we have such an occasion through which we may introduce personal liberties to them. Our temporary forfeiture of a few of our rights will offer the citizens of another nation the prospect for increased freedoms of their own. Considering our abundant blessings and the desecration of the rights of others, a momentary yielding should not be an excessive expectation.
Sara Marie Eichenberger is a senior in military history and international affairs. She can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.