Every choice has consequences

Friday will mark the beginning of a new decade.
The first decade of the 21st century has been marked with great confusion. We have witnessed great opportunities of hope and compassion, and witnessed great tragedies.
We have seen the hope of the world build and the humanity of the world come together. Five years ago, for instance, the world rallied to assist victims of the deadly tsunami that devastated so many countries.
Almost nine years ago, we allowed terrorists to remove many of the freedoms that we had built in the democracies of the world. And we were only too quick to give up freedoms to feel safer.
We have all heard the saying that “one person can change the world.” The Nobel Peace Prize has recognized many individuals who have contributed to the development of peace in their countries and around the world.
Mother Teresa ministered to the poor, sick, orphaned, and dying in India. She was recognized with a Nobel Peace Prize. Desmond Tutu, a South African cleric and activist for human rights, probably is most recognized for being chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa.
He and Nelson Mandela, the first president elected in a fully-democratic election in South Africa, both have won the Nobel Peace Prize for their work.
The United Nations and former U.S. vice-president Al Gore received the prize for their efforts to make the world aware of the threats to the planet’s environment.
This year, with the coming of H1N1 ’flu, labs around the world sprang into action and the world united to develop a vaccine in record time. Thanks to the efforts of researchers and government actions, the dreaded pandemic actually was reduced.
Across Rainy River District, almost half of all residents received an inoculation by Christmas.
These are the good news stories.
Many groups have been recognized, including the United Nations, Médecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), and the Red Cross to name just a few. These are the good news stories of groups of people making a difference in the world.
We learned that the quick thinking of a traveller aboard an aircraft on Christmas Day probably prevented a large catastrophe from occurring.
But this past weekend, we learned a failed terrorist can make a difference, too. Because of the act of one terrorist aboard a plane to Detroit, travellers now are facing significant changes in air travel to the United States.
Delays of up to eight hours were experienced by U.S.-bound passengers on Sunday as stricter screening processes went into effect.
Airlines suffered loss of revenue as flights were cancelled or postponed. Travellers were inconvenienced and failed to arrive to make connecting flights, and found they had to pay for unexpected accommodations.
New restrictions were put in place. Some carry-on baggage has been banned on flights from Canada to the U.S.
This so-called terrorist successfully has changed the way people will travel for some time in the future. This individual successfully has reduced freedoms and the right to privacy of one’s body should they wish to travel into the U.S. in an aircraft.
Looking forward, will we give up more freedoms to feel safer? Will we seek to protect and restore lost freedoms, and provide support to nations and groups seeking to foster greater democracy?
Can technological advances protect us from terrorism? Do we want “Big Brother” listening to our every phone call, monitoring our every e-mail, text message, or movement, so that we can all feel safe?
Will we make the 10’s the decade where we truly look at protecting the environment and world by reducing greenhouse gases? Will we be ready to make sacrifices by reducing our dependence on fossil fuels?
We have choices to make. Every choice has consequences.

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