If you pay any attention whatsoever, you may have noticed that police stations, courthouses, the capitol, government buildings now have gate guards, many with screening devises to check for dangerous implements. This is a relative recent phenomenon, but one that has been gaining speed for a number of years. When you ask about this, the response is universally-security. It is to protect the people who work in these buildings. But let us think about this for a moment; something I often ask. Immediately several questions surface. For one, from whom are the people working in these buildings to be protected? The answer is, from you and me. I must take everything from my pockets to enter the Polk County Courthouse. The last time I was in the Iowa State Capitol I also was required to take everything from my pockets. The federal courthouse is the most difficult of entrance. There one must practically disrobe. I not only have to show my ID to people who know me, but I must take off my belt and shoes too if they contain metal shanks. Personally I find these requirements disrespectful. I am viewed as a potential threat to the safety of the people who work in the building. In many of these buildings, if not most, people are in possession of a vast number of firearms, weapons of all kinds, ammunition in sufficient quantity to hold off a siege.
There is significant symbolism in the behavior of the people working for the government; of the government itself. The only conclusion that can be drawn from this behavior is that governments and the people who work for governments are afraid of the public-the people who they are employed to serve. Public places should be places where people want to go; to feel welcome. This is not the case. Every level of security makes the visit to a public place, such as a courthouse, more foreboding, more difficult, less welcoming. As a result the public goes to the courthouse only when required. It is no longer a place to hang out and see what is happening in the halls of justice. The federal courthouse is the most deserted. I'm not sure that one would even be allowed entrance unless one could articulate a specific reason for the visit.
What this discussion leads to, especially in regard to the federal government, is that they are afraid of us--you and me. This is not good. Fear easily leads to oppression and repression; one may only look around the world to see how easily governments slaughter their own citizens because they fear them. This is not to say that the federal government will begin slaughtering the citizens of this country, but fear is a continuum; it travels from low to high, from a little to a lot, and it moves up and down. Fear is harmful; it is the cause of irrational behavior and it sets the government apart from its citizens. From being all in this together; it becomes us against them. With the level of security we experience in dealing with our government, the conclusion is easy to reach that the government is not for us but against us. But as with many things, there seems to be no solution. When voicing concerns over building security, the response is normally one of disdain or suspicion; you are either ignorant of life in modern society, or are callous of the safety of those employed to protect you.