You and I are governed through consent.
This is a given in a world of question marks that I don’t have all the answers, but a world in which I try to exist. What happens when you no longer agree with how you are governed? Who is it that will inevitably control your consent?
Last Friday, The Guardian published an article on PRISM. An NSA program targeting all of the data processed on every cell phone number Verizon provided. When we say all of the data, we mean all.
Every status update.
Every nonsensical thought.
They want to predetermine subversives and terrorists.
They want to know all of this information to prevent mass bombings and solve criminal behavior.
Why do we use the term “They”?
“They” are the organizations that prevent the behavior?
It’s my theory that “They” are not middle income government employees, but let’s not go there. That is dangerous territory in this day and age.
I am often asked, “What is my political affiliation?”
For many reasons I am pretty conservative in my actions. For many more I am liberal in my views.
Basically I feel we each have the right to private property, life built on our own terms and the ability to express ourselves without recourse.
It was pointed out to me yesterday that I am Libertarian.
Now, I have looked that up and largely agree with their views, but I don’t believe that I am.
Then in that same conversation I was asked if I am an anarchist.
This led me down a train of thought that you can only imagine.
While I am not happy with how we are governed I do believe we need to be governed. I believe there needs to be systems and processes in place to provide the infrastructure we have come to enjoy.
Without an entity worrying about the details we would not have reached the diversity in thought and availability of information.
We would not have moved beyond the Industrial age to the Information age.
We would have halted our theoretical evolution.
OR perhaps not, but we wouldn’t be where we are today.
Many of the arguments I have read refer to our Founding Fathers. They contain great quotes by great men who were themselves subjected to a tyrant. Benjamin Franklin is HUGE right now.
“Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”
That is the one that circulates and recirculates until your head spins. But what was his context?
I haven’t actually had time to read the entire book I found involving this, so we will just have to believe that he was referring to the standard practices of the British who ran the Colonies at the time.
Franklin also believed that in order for the republic that would be formed the peoples had to be virtuous for it to survive.
His parents were pious Puritans. Puritan values include devotion to egalitarianism, education, industry, thrift, honesty, temperance, charity, and community spirit.
These values have become so integrated with the American spirit that you can feel Franklin’s impact daily.
Franklin also believed in the “Divine Providence” of this endeavor. This nation built on freedom and self-reliant responsibility. He felt God was in command of our every action.
To me he was correct.
God’s divine providence created a whole new world of governmental possibilities.
However, Franklin also believed that in order for the Republic to survive it had to be run by good, virtuous men.
Nearly 100 years later Lord Acton provided a memorable thought.
“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
What the Founding Fathers built and believed in was a system of small federal government that kept the states in control of their destinies. No, not all the representatives agreed to that ideology, but their history proved that only the local governments could understand the needs of the local population.
The foundation was set for freedom and liberty and due process.
(Due Process 2013 style is another post entirely)
Now nearly 250 years from the Continental Congress we are met with a growing dissidence to the actions of the government that has constantly been handed more and more power.
We give them power for our safety.
We write the rules of social responsibility with the government providing the keys to the piggy bank that will provide prosperity to the nation.
We provide our consent to security beyond anything our forefathers ever imagined.
I can remember when I was a child we had some freedom to explore. We could wander within a range of our home and experience the liberty of our own choices. Nothing was more liberating than walking to the corner store with a dollar and buying a candy bar and then eating it in the woods with my friends.
I was 8 years old and felt like I had some control of my existence.
Today, my son is 7 years old and when I think of letting him walk to the building next door to our apartment to buy a candy bar alone I cringe.
Why is that?
Because our world is incredibly different.
We live in a world where it seems the majority of the population has forgotten that to be a part of a free society they have to have a certain level of virtue and decorum. The unwritten rules of life and propriety that are scoffed at in the modern world are the precise rules that let us be free.
So when we are faced with the choice to put up surveillance cameras to monitor the actions of others to place blame when something bad happens, we let them.
We allow the monitoring of ourselves to protect ourselves from thieves, murderers, vagrants, and child abusers.
We trade our privacy to protect. We began doing this while I was a child.
Monitors in that store where I bought the candy bar would blink and the VHS tapes would record and if something bad were to every have happened to me there I would have been seen.
When my mother and grandmother were children they had the ability to have that same freedom I felt, but the monitoring of their actions didn’t exist. That was when community meant something. That was when if you miss behaved your mother received a phone call from the store clerk telling her that you had pinched a piece of chocolate and she could pay for it next time she was there.
We have replaced this line of thinking.
We now do what we want and leave it to a prosecutor to catch us. We have allowed the disintegration of the community that the founding fathers had wanted to create.
We now have “Big Brother.”
Where your actual blood brothers should be we have a video camera, a satellite link and digital relations watching out for us.
As technology has developed during my lifetime, I’ve watched the preventative measures to unseen dangers develop as well.
For every milestone made in technology there is a milestone in government bureaucracy. We give more power and the government willingly and joyously accepts.
All in the name of security and jobs.
I think back to Lord Acton, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
I think back to Ben Franklin’s belief that for the republic to prosper we need virtuous leaders.
I’m of the opinion that the bureaucratic power we have provided the government lends itself to absolute corruption. If we are governed by consent we have given the powers in charge the ability to do whatever where ever they want.
My freedoms dwindle while they remain unchecked.
There is another piece to this puzzle.
We were given an education that caused us to think for ourselves, grasp theories and explore possibilities, write our own opinions and develop the tools to think for ourselves.
Whether we were introverted or extroverted we were taught to develop ideals that would have a positive impact on the world.
I don’t know if this was everywhere, but I know this is what I was taught by the leadership in my school.
Think for myself.
Share your theory and have an open discussion.
Build the idea alone and then put it into action as a community.
Whether that community was a few students or a whole organization.
It is with this line of thinking that we have developed the tools that allow for the wealth of human knowledge and history to be available at a moment’s notice. By developing a theory alone and putting it into practice within a group humanity has developed the internet, the computer, the personal computer, cell phones, GPS, and on and on.
We embraced all of these technologies that we have built because of the knowledge that exists within them.
Humans are curious. Humans crave connection. Humans crave community.
So here we are. 2013.
Our curiosity, our connection, our community exists online and through the internet. We share knowledge, opinions, news, and need to innovate.
We share one with another in hopes of creating breakthroughs in our own human, temporary, existence so that all of society can improve.
Our education provided the tools to make this possible.
I graduated high school in 1999, having completed courses in Physics and Calculus, advanced placement in History and Government. I don’t know if we were an exceptional class, or the norm for the country of the time, but I was normal for my peer set.
I look back with interest as I discuss education today with my peers who have become teachers.
Nothing is taught in the same light as before.
Where once teachers shared their idealism and need to get the children to think for themselves. There is now a need to conform and teach to the prescribed curriculum.
A curriculum that has been dumbed down.
In a world whose lifeblood is knowledge we are hindering our children who attend public schools.
We are teaching to the base line instead of setting our expectations higher.
Through my research I have found several reasons…none of them are good.
First, it is not easy to control someone who has the ability to think for themselves.
Second, we are a resource based planet. We can never create more of any of our finite resources and it has been suggested that more educated people require higher incomes and therefore will consume more resources with these higher incomes. So it’s actually a threat to our sustainability.
Finally, those in power like to feel superior to the norm. If you price education out of their range and remove the tools to assist in the payment of that education; and then tax and fee the student to death they will never meet their potential. By never meeting their potential that makes room for those with the money, no matter their common sense and reasoning, to become the societal elite.
My children are being raised at a time when math isn’t thought to be of much importance. Reading words and comprehension are vastly different topics. Science isn’t really about innovation, but about repetition. Recycle, reduce, reuse the same theories until they learn more at home than in the school that is supposed to be teaching them the keys to the world.
The state that I live in, love and pay taxes to has rewritten our public school curriculum to their political affiliation, rewriting history and adopting books that change the very foundation of knowledge.
I could go on and on about the travesty that is our educational system, but really what does this have to do with the problem at hand?
By being taught to only do as the authority tells you and to be punished for thinking otherwise we are predisposing our kids to a life of surveillance. By not educating them to think for themselves they will never cause dissidence or create polarizing arguments.
They will never feel the passion of knowing something isn’t right at the very core of their being.
“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
Right now we are at an impasse.
Society, government, virtue, and education are all being forced to reexamine themselves.
I have more questions now than when I began my research for this topic.
Questions that go to the very core of who we are as Americans, who we are as Humans, and who we want to become.
Do we want to continue down this path of centralized, political subservience?
Do we need to reboot the system?
Do we know who is dependable enough to not seek selfish gains to correct the problems?
Is it possible to create the world we want while hurting no one?
The undercurrents of society are not sure about the last one, but I feel as others feel that in order to change the future you have to do it differently than in the past.
War in any form is not an option because it would take from the very premise of the changes needed to improve society.
So, to you dear reader, how can we make this country, a country we can be proud of once again?