WARNING: This is a populist, patriotic “Live Free or Die” posting, a departure from my norm of personal leadership, containing Founding Fathers, Tea Party-style thoughts, challenging conventional wisdom, questioning authority! Proceed at your own risk.

A rational society prioritizes its energy according to the reality of the threat, not the drama of it.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 443,000 Americans die from smoking annually and 112,000 from obesity; between 48,000 and 98,000 Americans die from preventable hospital events at a cost of between $17 billion and $29 billion annually. 38,000 Americans die on the highway, a third of those fatalities caused by drunk drivers.

Yet what occupies our minds, consumes and diverts our energy? Airplane terrorist attacks.

Since July 4th, 1776, we have time and again sent our sons and daughters off to fight wars and to die defending our liberty and freedom. Yet we willingly surrender our civil liberties in the face of scare tactics and fear mongering, allowing ourselves to be electronically strip-searched on a regular basis by our almighty government——pat downs that would get you arrested for sexual assaults in any other context.

Have we become a nation of sheep? Trading freedom and liberty for the illusion of security? Is the “Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave” now a “papers please” country?

Whatever happened to “Live Free or Die”? Is America now a country of trembling cowards, willing to relinquish our proud traditions for any modicum of supposed safety?

We are reacting exactly the way terrorists would like us to, expending huge amounts of time, energy, and money running in circles instead of using the same resources in wiser ways, to grow stronger, to innovate.

Ronald Reagan spoke of America as “a shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere,” a beacon of hope, liberty, democracy, and freedom. America as a shining city upon a hill is a vision that still resonates with most Americans. We would vastly prefer that over America being a dark, walled place.

Yes, we should always protect ourselves, just in rational ways against real threats, without surrendering our souls and our freedoms others have fought and died to preserve.

Want to protect American lives? Bring our troops home NOW! Then fasten your seat belt every time you drive, stop eating fast food, exercise, and throw away those cigarettes. Congratulations! You have now saved more lives than the TSA ever will, and at no cost in money or in freedom.

Governments from time immemorial have used fear mongering to persuade citizens to surrender precious freedoms. It can happen here. The road to totalitarianism begins with small steps, meager bite-sized losses of freedoms and liberty. We are now a “papers please” country.