Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Keep on running toward the danger

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When you look at the photos and video of the aftermath of the Boston bomb explosions, what stands out amidst the carnage is the presence of civilians offering comfort and aid to the stricken. No one would have blamed them if they had run for their lives, but they not only stayed to help, they ran in the direction of potential danger.

Such bravery is not always possible or even advisable, but in this case, the resilience of a few individuals serves as a metaphor for the kind of societies that are needed to withstand the shock waves that will come again, either in the form of terrorism, the lone madman, or natural disaster.

Canada's own counterterrorism strategy calls for a stronger ability to manage crises and recover from them. The goal is to prevent them through good intelligence, strong preparations and a vigilant population, but ultimately, resilient citizens and a resilient society are needed so life can return to normal following a disaster.

The government makes no pretence about being able to thwart every terrorist attack. On the contrary, it is preparing for such a possibility.

The risk, of course, is that the Boston bombings will spark yet another round of tighter security at the border, airports, sporting events and special places where people gather in large numbers.

With each attack, new lessons may be learned, new technology developed, but security for most people already seems about as strict as can be endured in a free society.

Public awareness ultimately is the best defence, but it's still a matter of developing such a culture in North America, which has been largely spared from the kind of daily threats that exist in other places.

People must become engaged in their communities, know their neighbours and learn to identify potential threats.

In Israel, for example, citizens are naturally security-conscious and they instinctively scrutinize their surroundings for signs of danger.

The country has also developed excellent intergovernmental co-operation and protocols for rapid response in emergencies.

We're not there yet, but it would be better to make security everyone's responsibility, rather than extending the lineups at airports and other places.

The people of Boston, meanwhile, are showing that life goes on in the aftermath of terror. It's not official, but some observers are already suggesting a new motto for Beantown: Keep on running.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien, Shannon Sampert, and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 17, 2013 A8

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