Worried about all those extremists out there trying to blow things up? We already know that TSA is fairly ineffectual. So what can a citizen do? Strengthen your local congregation:
“Externally, voluntary associations, from churches and professional societies to Elks clubs and reading groups, allow individuals to express their interests and demands on government and to protect themselves from abuses of power by their political leaders…. Internally, associations and less formal networks of civic engagement instill in their members habits of cooperation and public-spiritedness…. Prophylactically, community bonds keep individuals from falling prey to extremist groups that target isolated and untethered individuals. Studies of political psychology over the last forty have suggested that ‘people divorced from community, occupation, and association are first and foremost among the supporters of extremism’.” [Robert Putnam, Bowling Alone, p. 338.]
OK, so saying that going to church fights terrorism is an exaggeration. But it is not an exaggeration to say that civic disengagement — lack of participation in all kinds of voluntary associations and democratic institutions — is correlated with terrorism. The more we can drag people away from their television and computer screens, and into social institutions, the more secure we will be.