|"The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them."
- Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
National television networks were able to supply endless footage of horrific scenes from September 11. They showed the anguish, fear, and confusion deeply proliferated among our fellow Americans in New York, Washington DC, and Pennsylvania. What the networks could not have possibly captured was the immediate aftermath in every local community across our great land.
Public parks were deserted, local roads were empty, shopping malls were vacated, and time suddenly seemed inequitable. Many of us locked our doors and searched for a loved one to embrace.
While some of the fear has dissipated in recent months, the reminder of potential risks to our freedom has not. We move forward in the 21st century with a challenge of epic proportions. Just as our New York City friends responded with sheer bravery to aid their fallen neighbors, so too must we exert the gumption necessary to protect future generations from potential catastrophe.
In order to ensure ample security and safety for Californians, we must expand our capacity to think, act, and react. The systems of old will not allow us to prepare with sufficient measures of precaution. We quickly discovered that money does not prevent crime or terrorism, and it may not even heal the vicious wounds to society. Government has an integral role in protecting our security, and we may begin with a more focused plan for crisis management. Part of this preparedness is local.
The State Legislature has a responsibility to build effective systems of statewide, national, and international collaboration. We need leaders who will strengthen our law enforcement departments with access to information and technology, as well as a mechanism to share our discoveries with neighboring agencies. As we move closer as people, so too must we come together in applying the most advanced strategies for handling a potential crisis. Law enforcement officials and community leaders are interdependent as we work toward common goals. Police officers and firefighters require better channels of communication with local citizens.
Neighborhood councils will help improve some of these conditions. It makes a tremendous difference when we empower residents to report criminal acts or terrorist threats in a timely manner. An even more profound impact will come from composing neighborhood councils of diverse members. Local medical professionals and scientists can advise on biological and chemical threats, security officials and building contractors can improve safety measures at local facilities, home owners can report on burglary issues, self defense experts and support groups can help us apprehend rapists, and inspirational coaches can keep kids active in sports and out of gangs.
Every crisis contains a danger, but it also presents an opportunity. We must seize every chance to unite our communities with a stronger sense of alertness and preparedness. Together, we can rise above our fears and defend our banner of freedom.