essay icon

Ally on National Security

Ally, 15, IL

Being born in a post 9/11 world, my view of national security has been that it is how we are to defend our country from external attacks. National security entails defense. In part, I do agree with this definition. I believe that the war on terror and reacting to threats from outside the nation are extremely important and tie into what “national security” truly means. As terrorism became more prominent and as I grew up in the aftermath of a massive terror attack, my definition used to only include external physical threats, but I’ve come to realize that threats are not only foreign. This definition had been shaped for me by mainstream media, painting these as more important ones.

And while this is important, we must also remember that our national security can be threatened internally. If individuals are not safe in their own country, how can the country as a whole be safe? This security should be present in even the most simple of situations. As a student in high school, the articles I read every year about school shootings are terrifying. These numbers only seem to rise, which makes me believe our national security is being threatened. When this simple act of going to school is deemed dangerous, one can only imagine what this must look like on a larger scale. People should be able to exercise their personal liberties without feeling that their security is being compromised.

Additionally, I believe that the definition that has been shaped for me excludes essential parts of national security. By only recognizing physical attacks as threats to our national security, the media leaves out the major realm of cybersecurity that helps define it. As I have become increasingly interested in computer science, I have discovered a new depth of national security. Cybersecurity, although a harder concept to grasp, is necessary for the safety of our nation as a whole. Our privacy must be protected and we must feel that our data is in the right hands. Without this, how can we as a country be secure? The answer: we can’t. If we do not feel protected from attack — physical or otherwise — we are not secure.

Although national security obviously includes defense, it also should include prevention. If we as a nation are expecting an attack, we are accepting that it will happen. Rather than waiting for a threat or attack to present itself, we should ensure that they do not occur in the first place. This idea has been presented by many people not involved in the field of security. I have seen it presented by news reporters, commentators, and authors of various expertise. However, the concept of prevention has not seemed to be fully implemented on a larger scale. My understanding of national security has never been the big picture. It has been the little things that we need to improve, and the issues that do not take the spotlight.