One More Wildcard / Fernando Dámaso

Photo: Rebeca

The term “national security” is fashionable in the world: in Mexico violence is an issue of national security; in Columbia it’s the narco-guerrillas; in the U.S. it’s illegal immigration. But here, not to be left out, we talk about it too. Issues of national security are important for countries, and so their governments dedicate preferential and serious attention to them.

However, when national security is used as a wildcard to encompass any problems, expand the base the conflict and resolution, suppress divergent views and support of political intolerance, it is vulgarized and is no longer taken seriously.

Recently, we often hear that food production, updating immigration regulations, access to Internet, electrical power generation, possession of satellite dishes, the transportation problem and even eradicating the marabou weed are national security issues. Much of what affects us seems to fit in this sack and that makes our lives a real hodgepodge.

We are apt to get attached to words, phrases, projects and programs, thinking they can serve to pull together different tasks that would otherwise be difficult to meet. For example, not long ago, within the program called Battle of Ideas, were included not only political and ideological activities themselves, but also others such as the repair of a hospital or a school, patching a street, the remodeling of a bakery or putting four benches in a park, etc., with the result that ordinary citizens made a joke of the whole thing (Enough of ideas already, they said), detracting from its seriousness and significance.

Something similar happened with the so-called Energy Revolution that inundated the country with generators and energy saving light bulbs, replacement of old electrical appliances (they brought you a new one and took away your old one and you had to start paying all over again), including refrigerators and air conditioners, along with rice cookers, water heaters, portable electric burners, and multipurpose pots (the so-called “Queen“) and then, over the months, it was diluted and the responsibility for maintaining it transferred to the shoulders and pockets of the population.

It might be convenient to take ourselves a little more seriously, give each case its real importance, without minimizing and also without broadening or manipulating it for some alleged advantages, more cyclical than real.

If now we were to think things through carefully before acting on them, and then to act calmly, deeply and without unnecessary haste, to focus responsibly on national security, stripping it of all the trash that has been tacked on it it, it would be a good decision.

February 26 2012