When does a crisis that’s repeated over and over stop being a crisis and become just a painful reality of modern life? That’s the question the U.S. government now faces as it deals with recurring rounds of terrorist activity with no end in sight.

As citizens, we’re now perpetually on edge for the next homegrown attack, like the Boston bombing of April 2013, or over ongoing threats to the air travel system inside and out of the U.S. Though far from U.S. soil, the recent beheadings of foreign troops, journalists, and aid workers by Islamic militant forces in the Middle East underscore an ever-present threat to Americans. The militants’ message: if we catch you on our territory, we will execute you; and watch out because it is only a matter of time before we bring our fight to you in the U.S. The fear that came home to roost on September 11, 2001 remains, even as the U.S. has avoided another attack of the scale of 9/11.

With angry, stateless actors planning and perpetrating difficult-to-predict and barbaric attacks with increasing frequency, the resources the U.S. pours into counterterrorism have not brought us freedom from the real fear of attack. The challenge for policy makers now is to find a crisis management paradigm that works in the new reality.

The old paradigms of crisis management may still apply, with their focus on organizing, planning, and executing around the three objectives of detection, prevention, and response. But the reality is that the way we have pursued these objectives has addressed only the symptoms and not the causes of terrorism and has done so at too high a price. When terrorism is the tool of dispossessed and disaffected peoples who feel that civil discourse and civic processes are denied to them, the detection methods we’ve used become too broad and intrusive. Suddenly we find ourselves living in a surveillance state that monitors the entire U.S. population for signs of disaffection. Meanwhile the tiny minority within the U.S. who represent a real threat still manage to plan and carry out their deeds below the radar. And those who threaten us from afar are largely undeterred by our surveillance methods.

The NSA, using credit card use patterns, web searches, and the location of cell phones, is now able to monitor every action that leaves a digital trace anywhere in the world. The agency uses algorithms to judge our motivations and predict our future behavior. Because of a few bad actors at home and radical movements abroad, we now live in a Big Brother world that is not what most of us would have chosen and does not relieve our fears.

In this new world, prevention means our government is arresting and prosecuting members of the U.S. population on tenuous grounds. Our strategy of assassinating overseas suspects with drones (including U.S. citizens), bypassing due process and inflicting horrific collateral damage, has hurt our reputation throughout the Muslim world and driven more young Muslim men towards radicalism. And yet here at home, we do not feel markedly safer, and we do feel we have lost something important. As U.S. citizens, we are no longer certain we have the freedom from random search and seizure that the Constitution promised us.

The truth is that dispossession and disaffection now characterize numerous and growing subgroups of the world’s population. These two anxious mental states have become the new normal for many in the twenty-first century, even in the most affluent countries, as enormous social change sweeps the globe. Never before in the history of humankind have we had a world this crowded, this uncertain, this interdependent, and with this much raw destructive power available to any individual or rag-tag group of rebels.

So what does it mean to manage this crisis and carry out detection and prevention in a way that successfully prevents attacks, addresses the fears of law-abiding U.S. citizens, and preserves our privacy?

Writing in Foreign Policy, Harvard professor of International Relations Stephen M. Walt says, “Our failure to do more to discredit these movements is perhaps the single biggest shortcoming of the entire war on terror, and until that failure is recognized and corrected, the war will never end.” What is needed now is not a new paradigm of crisis management but rather a new way of imagining U.S. leadership in foreign policy. Not only do we need to discredit the radical movements but we need to actively work to legitimize moderate movements in the Middle East and to promote a positive vision of the future for those who might be attracted to radical movements. Terrorist action is a cry to be seen and heard to a world that turns a deaf ear to dispossessed and disaffected peoples. The new paradigm involves finding ways to reach these people, especially the young, and to ensure that they feel they have a voice and a future that offers dignity and hope.

Perhaps our greatest and most pressing crisis is a crisis of imagination. While the threat of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil may have diminished from its peak in 2001, the threat that terrorist attacks pose to U.S. interests and political stability in the Middle East and beyond is at least as high as it was in that year. And our methods are surely driving the resentment deeper. We, as citizens, call on our elected leaders and policy makers to reimagine a prevention strategy. The modern world we helped build in the twentieth century based on short-term U.S. interests is a world that has alienated those on the other side of our interests. Can we imagine a foreign policy for the twenty-first century that better aligns all our interests?