The world is a scary place sometimes. It really is. The scariest part of all is the fact that most of the people that we all have been laughing at, all the people we’ve been calling “crazy,” are starting to look more like reasonable and forward thinking people at an exponential rate. It seems like with every passing second, another “conspiracy theory” gets some form of validation. Especially, in just the past few weeks. Honestly, over the last few years I’ve started feeling like one of those said crazy people. I can’t help it. A lot of things seem like common sense. Now, admittedly, I carry a fair amount of suspicion on my person. My life experience has built this perception of the world, and the folks that inhabit it, in me. Like, a great giant, brick fortress that I reside in. Requiring a vetting process before I grant access behind my walls(It’s a pretty sweet place, though. I have a ton of movies, some video games, and shit load of books… Also, milk and cookies.). The fact of the matter is that I haven’t really seen, heard, or experienced anything to sway me from this disposition.
Everyone has an angle, no matter what their end game is. Even people that have good intentions have some type of slant as to their reasons why they might want to change the “atmosphere” in some way. There is no such thing as an altruist( Have you seen Man of Steel? Not even Superman is one anymore.), and this is true for everyone. There is always an element of selfishness in every decision we make. Even when we’re doing the right thing. Doing the right thing impacts the person engaging in the “good works” just as much as it does the rest of us. Even the idea of being a “hero,” of some sort, brings with it a little boost to one’s ego. Really, what I’m getting at is question everything, and especially, everyone.
So, when talking about those who set policy in this country, there is something that I find is usually whole sale ignored. Class. Social class can be such a large divide, in terms of how we perceive the world. It’s all about “points of reference.” I, as I assume most other people, have to learn things the hard way sometimes. It’s all about personal experience. Without the experience then there is no real way to “know,” and without knowledge our perceptions suffer. It’s not tangible, and it effects our ability to empathize. How can we commiserate if we don’t have even a tertiary awareness of misery. Of course, “misery,” or “pain” is totally subjective, and it would be irresponsible to paint things in such broad strokes, but this has been my experience… The people that run our country, largely, come from a social class that has very little to do with the average person, and I can’t help but assume that this effects the way they perceive “what’s best for us.” How could they know? Even if they had at one time been down in the cesspool with the rest of us, the time spent away from it most likely would cause them to lose perspective. It’s easy to forget where you’ve come from while enjoying the benefits of “affluence.” Hell, I don’t even blame them for feeling this way, but it doesn’t change the facts of this reality. It’s human nature, really, and people, much smarter than myself, have been exploring these dispositions for a very, very long time. People haven’t changed, maybe, ever. That’s why the works of Plato, Aristotle, and even Shakespeare still, to this day, echo with relevance.
In general, “I don’t need to know what my country is doing to keep me safe,” has been a sentiment that has been thrown around a lot lately. Which is easy for them to say, because I have a sneaking suspicion that they knew about the recent revelations of privacy violations. Some of them, most likely, probably were involved in passing the bills that put this type of behavior into practice. So, the fact that they aren’t completely “surprised” isn’t exactly blowing my mind. Given what I was talking about before, how can I trust what they “feel” is right, is actually right? With the way that technology advances, and how it affects every facet of our lives, we do have to find new ways to protect ourselves from those that would do us harm. That’s undeniable. The thing we are actually discussing is how transparent the systems of these protections should be.
If you’re like me, the news of how we are potentially monitored came as really no big surprise. I have a theory that if the ability exists to do something then somebody is most likely going to do it. Good or bad, the idea of “possibility” usually leads to it being a “reality,” sooner or later. Obviously, and unfortunately, it was sooner. I don’t know what people found so shocking, and anyone that blindly believed the words of various political pundits and politicians as they said things like “Not Possible,” or “Would never happen,” seem gullible at best, and really dumb at worst. The thing that kills me is that they are all adversely effected by all this rigmarole as well. Seriously, just over the past few weeks a plethora of information about the IRS targeting politicians, conservative groups, and journalists has come out like a flood of unfortunate truths. Whether or not you agree with the ideologies of these people and groups, the whole thing is disconcerting and repugnant. It’s only a matter of time before it effects the other side. A precedent has been set for this type of behavior being tolerated, and even encouraged, but the draconian implications are hard to ignore. Probably not today, most likely not tomorrow, but what about a decade from now? Rome wasn’t built in a day, you know.
All of these systems are engaged in an internal struggle for… What? That’s the real question. Also, who is aware of what’s going on? It’s ridiculous, in my opinion, that any of these agencies are acting independently. Someone knows, and someone gave the go ahead. It’s sad that, as far as “modern,” and “progressive” government goes, “accountability,” and our civil liberties are nothing more than concepts to be scoffed at, or just ignored entirely. Because, terrorists and stuff. “The safety of our very way of life is at stake,” and “We’ve stopped countless possible terrorist incidents. What? No, just take our word for it,” are approximations of the mainstream bi-line. Yeah… That doesn’t really get at the heart of the matter, does it? Why do these protections have to be secret? Wouldn’t the awareness of these systems act as a deterrent for potential wrong doers? Maybe, make them think twice about it at least? The idea that public knowledge of these processes would make them less effective is, quite frankly, absurd. I know that common sense isn’t so common, but come on, folks. The lack of transparency makes me kind of feel like they knew that what they were doing was wrong, or, at the very least, that a large contingent of people might have a problem with it.
I know, I know, “They’re not watching you, dog! You’re crazy!” Yeah, I know, that’s not really the issue. Like I said before, a precedent has been set. Not only are we being told that this type of stuff is necessary, but that it’s our fault, and we’re just going have to get in line and accept it. As far as some are concerned, we have no right to know, and our voice is of no concern. Call me old fashioned, but when legislation that is this drastic gets put up for a vote, isn’t it the duty of our senators and congressman to inform the public? Well, that is if they even bothered to show up. Sounds like dereliction of duty to me, but with the Patriot Act, and last years NDAA, passing, I guess we don’t really matter anymore. Just like accountability, and our civil liberties, democracy has become a quaint ideal that is more akin to fairy tale morality plays than actuality. That pesky, old fashioned idea of “public oversight” is no longer necessary(So, keep it in those Grimm books! You un-american trollop!).
Enter, Edward Snowden. The… Wait for it… TRAITOROUS, WHISTLE BLOWING SPY(Dun, dun, dun!)! “Hyperbole,” you may say, but that’s pretty much the the way that our government is classifying this guy. Now, what exactly did he leak? Well, no actual “info,” or anything like that. This is not a WikiLeaks type of situation, and even that I’m undecided about. As the effects of it are debatable. He exposed systems that were in place. Systems that, by the way, effect everyone around the world. He had some moral qualms about the way things were being run, because, like I said, this effects everyone in a pretty big, bad way. Not only is our “right to privacy” being attacked, but also the sovereignty of other nations. However much those that make the decisions in this country would like us to believe it, we are not the police of the world. If the shoe was on the other foot, we would be in “meltdown, crisis mode.” Now, I realize that there is a certain amount of “espionage” that goes on across the intelligence agencies of the world, but that stuff is pretty much illegal, or “was” rather. If your caught you suffer the consequences. It would seem that now this stuff is “standard operating procedure,” and “our right.” Quite frankly, that’s bull shit.
This is a story about transparency, and public oversight. “Who has the right to know what,” is a better way to put it. As far as Snowden was concerned, we did have the right to know, and guess what? Most citizens, of pretty much the entire world feel the same way! Who would have thought, eh? Pretty “cray-cray.” This isn’t about “sensitive” information, this is about policy, and our right have a voice in that policy. What we have here is a man that felt like something was amiss, or wrong. Who dared to think that maybe a little too much was being taken away from us. He wasn’t a small minded, line towing sycophant, and thought for himself. He looked at the broader implications of what was going on, and felt like it was his duty, as an american, to do something. The fact that he’s being called a “treasonous spy” by the powers that be, is pretty telling about their dispositions. They are completely out of touch.
Edward Snowden has dared to be an individual. In some ways, that’s what his crime really seem to be. The efforts of an individual. It’s an important thing to consider. Too often do we engage in “tribalism,” and become entrenched in a particular view point. It stops us from seeing the larger picture, and consequences sometimes. Nothing in life is “black and white,” why would this situation be any different? This is not a time to pick sides. This is a time to realize that maybe these “sides” are not what they appear to be. If anything, the actions of our current government and administration shows us that the similarities(You know, like, foreign policy, nation building, and civil liberty violations.) might outweigh the differences. There’s been a little bit too much consistency across administrations. Democrat? Republican? Does it matter anymore? I’ve always been of the opinion that parties are for politicians, and that the average citizen should feel free to choose whoever they feel is best for the job. This whole “team” based political philosophy is archaic and pointless. “Freedom to the people,” remember that, anyone? We’re not talking about sports teams. The way the media treats it though, an outside observer might think so. But it’s not.
This whole situation has been a reminder for me. A reminder about my responsibilities as a citizen of this country, and that is to keep myself and others informed, and to voice my opinion. We have this ability to spread information(Like, news articles, video clips, and the like. I know that some people already do this to a nauseating degree, but I may have some new feelings about it, all things considered. Even if I disagree with the point of view that is represented. Having a well rounded opinion on a matter never hurts!) at an instant. Let’s use these systems that are being used to monitor us. Let’s bolster our knowledge base. We have to come together to do this. The people that have been put into positions to disseminate information to the masses have proven themselves ineffective. We are kept in “tunnel vision” like mentalities. If you watch FOX you only get one perspective, if you watch CNN you are only getting one perspective, and so on and so forth. I think you get what I’m saying. Why do I have to read the BBC to get reasoned reporting and criticism of my own country. I realize, that journalism has been under attack, and they are probably afraid to go against the grain, but that’s their job. They are supposed to report to us, not read off of a government approved teleprompter. Sometimes it seems they are more interested in their “celebrity” status, than actually being journalists, but I digress…
We have a responsibility, not only to our country, but to ourselves. We need to keep each other informed. There is so much information out there -almost as shocking as what we’ve been hearing about lately- already in the public sphere, that we would be remiss not to inform each other. Especially considering how easy it is to share. We need to have conversations with one another. This stuff matters. Communication is everything in life. It determines the ease in which our lives progress. We all can be “whistle blowers,” if you will, and we can do it from the comfort of our own monitored homes.
I could keep going, and get into drones, the vagueness of the term “terrorist” in the legislation, but I feel like my conclusions would be pretty much the same. There comes a point where one starts to belabor a point, and I don’t want to do that. For the first time, in awhile, I’m glad that people are at least feigning interest in our foreign policy. This stuff is done in our name, and it effects the way that other countries view us as a society. They, just like a lot of people in this country, think that we have a hand in our policy making. Well, at least more than we actually do. No wonder why some countries’ inhabitants flat out hate us. If they were doing this kind of stuff to us, what do you think the general reaction would be? See what I’m saying?