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Challenges Facing America

One of the most important responsibilities of our nation is to protect and serve its citizens. As the new millennium begins, our nation must overcome many challenges that affect this responsibility. Three of the most important are terrorism, illiteracy, and the lack of moral values. Americans have considered terrorism as a horror that occurs in other countries and not as a real threat to America itself. As the recent terrorist attacks on our nation shows, this opinion was gravely incorrect.

There are several policies in both the private sector and our government, which contributed to our vulnerability to terrorism. Most people assume that all luggage and passengers are closely screened before they are allowed on an aircraft; however, this not the case. Unlike carry-on bags, luggage placed in the cargo bay of a plane is not x-rayed. This creates the possibility for a terrorist to check in a suitcase that contains a bomb with no problem.

Not only would the bomb go undetected, but also the terrorist would not have to be a passenger on plane due to no checkpoints, which match baggage to passengers. Another factor, which contributed to the successfulness of the recent terrorist acts, is the gross negligence of the INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) in their duties of monitoring foreigners who enter this country legally as students. By focusing their efforts and resources mainly on the Mexican immigration problem, they have left the door wide open for legal aliens to stay in this country for as long as they wish.

The school in which a foreign student is allowed to attend is specified when he is granted a visa; however, there is no office in the INS whose responsibility is to ensure that a student is present at the school at the required time classes begin. The administration of the school is the only responsible party for reporting a foreign students failure of attendance. Often foreign students never show up for school and roam freely through this country without anyones knowledge. The best way to prevent terrorist attacks in the future is by the gathering of information about terrorist schemes while they are in the planning process.

The CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) is the agency responsible for gathering this information. Since the Watergate scandal of the 1970s, it has been hindered both in the planning of intelligence operations and in tactics used to gather the intelligence. Intelligence operatives can never effectively help in the prevention of future attacks if they do not have the leeway necessary to gather information about such attacks while the terrorists are in the process of planning them. In addition to terrorism, our nation must consider the problem of illiteracy.

The right and freedoms of an illiterate citizen are more limited than those of citizens who can read or write are. Voting is a privilege and right that all Americans are entitled to, but an illiterate person cannot take advantage of this right because of their inability to read. They cannot read newspapers or any other material that would help them form an opinion on which candidate would best serve their interests. Most rarely, go to the polls because they cannot read the ballot. Their voice continues to go unheard. An illiterate person has few job choices. They must find jobs in which the tasks required to do the job never change.

The simple act of applying for a job is a difficult task because they cannot read the application or write in the appropriate responses to the questions asked. When they do find a job, many times they must endure more abuse from superiors than coworkers because they are afraid of losing the job and starting the job-hunting process all over again. An illiterate person is limited in the choices of where they can live, work, or shop. They must remain where their surroundings are familiar no matter how it limits their quality of life. They cannot take a job in another city that pays better.

They cannot shop in another city at a store whose prices are better. They feel helpless and hopeless. Finally, our nation must address the lack of moral values in todays society. Without morals, our country is plagues with leaders and citizens who have no concept of right and wrong. Our governmental leaders should lead by example, but in recent years, they have failed miserably at this task. The incident of infidelity of former President Bill Clinton is a prime example of this failure. Not only did Mr. Clinton commit adultery, he also lied under oath in a court of law and got away with it.

The only lesson taught by this example was that if a person has enough power and influential friends, they could get away with any act without fear of prosecution. Parents are doing no better than our national leaders. We are failing to set examples of proper behavior for our children. The standard of look out for number one has become commonplace. We no longer practice the Biblical rule that states, Do unto others as you would have done unto you. Instead, we continually show that there should be no tolerance or understanding of any wrongdoing committed against us. Very few youth of today have respect for teachers, elders, or each other.

Everyday more and more instances of violent crime are committed by our nations youth and children. Shocking accounts of children bringing guns to school as a means of solving problems with a teacher or a fellow student are becoming increasingly frequent. Children are committing crime, which were one thought only committed by adults such as rape, robbery, and murder. For our nation to be successful in the future, governmental leaders and citizens must come together to find solutions to the problems of terrorism, illiteracy, and lack of moral values. If we do not, our nation will weaken.

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