It’s hard being your own person these days.
Brian: Look, you’ve got it all wrong! You don’t need to follow me, You don’t need to follow anybody! You’ve got to think for yourselves! You’re all individuals!
The Crowd: Yes! We’re all individuals!
Brian: You’re all different!
The Crowd: Yes, we ARE all different!
Man in crowd: I’m not…
The Crowd: Ssssh!
– Monty Python’s Life of Brian
Okay, maybe it’s always been hard.
In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.
The fourth is freedom from fear—which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor—anywhere in the world.
– Franklin D. Roosevelt, January 6, 1941
As the news media descended into their typical hyperventilation at the reports that Washington or New York might be the target of an attack on the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, I tweeted that I would take a run by several of DC’s monuments on the same day. (This isn’t really a big deal, as my usual running path takes me by most of those buildings, but that’s not really the point.) I would say, like everybody on the NFL pregame shows, that this was a way of showing that I “can’t be intimidated” by a terrorist threat. But I think it was as much a petulant reaction to the media’s overreaction: tell me it’s a bad idea, and I’m that much more likely to do it.
So when I woke up to a sunny, muggy, DC late-summer day, I laced up my sneakers and headed south to the National Mall. Instead of turning right, toward the Washington Monument, I turned left, toward Capitol Hill. Because if you can’t trust a random boast on the Internet, what can you trust?