I’ve just spent some time reading & reflecting on the endless supply of information, facts, fiction, opinions, & reality about the increased use of US drone missile attacks under the Obama Administration. I am inspired by Pax Christi’s recent postings, especially the two articles by Shelley Douglass and Nick Mele in the Inter-community Peace & Justice quarterly edition of AMOS (A Matter of Spirit publication). I am inspired, and yet I am still left with a feeling of hopelessness. The more we make technological advances, the more our privacy & freedoms are placed on the chopping block. We proclaim that we live in a free & democratic society (US), but clearly we do not. Not by a long shot! Not when our elected officials are making back-room-deals with lobbyists, corporations, or the highest bidder. Not when the president & congress change the rules or re-interpret the Constitution to suit their interests & then casually explain it away in the name of “national security” when their misdeeds are exposed. I’m not paranoid, Verizon, Google, NSA, &/or POTUS. I’m not! BUT! When you read this, please understand that I’m just an ordinary person who wants the same Human Rights that everyone else does. Everyone means EVERYONE in the whole world, not just a hand-picked few!
I have heard horror stories on the radio, read about them on the internet and in magazines…. People who question their governments and the “status quo”, people who work for peace & justice, and then suddenly find themselves threatened, out of a job, imprisoned, abducted, tortured, exiled, or simply silenced because they dare to speak truth to power. But who really has the power? The government? Homeland Security? The CIA or the FBI? We fool ourselves on both sides; those in government & we the people. You remember them, don’t you? We…. The people?
While watching re-runs of old sit-coms the other night I was struck with an “Ah-ha!” moment. The topics haven’t changed in 40 or 60 years (yes, I’m that old!). Today’s sit-coms, soap-operas, & TV-dramas still tackle the same ol’ issues of politics, sex, religion, racism, & relationships. The real difference is technology & the transparency of the issues. Think about it. 40-60 years ago it took a whole lot of grassroots action & many brave ordinary citizens to stand up to the government to get Civil Rights passed into law. It took a lot of angry mothers to stand up to government to win justice for families suffering from the effects of deadly contaminants at Love Canal. Many of these movements remained active for many years before they saw the change that needed to happen. Today all you need is YouTube, FaceBook, Twitter, Move-On.org, & the “morning/late-night TV circuit” appearances for anything to go “viral.” Then all you have to do is put down your Latte & click “sign the petition”! No, the issues haven’t changed, just our means of communication & our “monkey-sphere” (funny perspective, but I have more faith in humanity than that).
I think social media is an important tool in addressing social justice issues, but it still needs to be linked to actions. Most of us have become “arm-chair-activist” who spend time pointing & clicking & forwarding petitions & links, which is good & totally necessary, but we need to do more, and I believe most of us have the capacity to care about more than just 150 other people (or monkeys). So, “We the people” ultimately have the power, we just forget about that every so often. We forget that democracy was built on the belief in certain unalienable rights, and when we forget, we relinquish our freedoms, our rights, our security, and our power. We forget that our elected officials derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed.” In other words, they work for us!
We give consent without thinking about it in today’s technology saturated environment, and then we’re outraged by what our government is doing when someone leaks something to the press about an infringement of our rights, freedoms, or privacy. In today’s instant world of media & technology, nothing much is private anymore, but that doesn’t mean we should relinquish our freedoms and our privacy. We just maybe have to rethink & reevaluate what our expectations are & determine if they are realistic or not.