Today I started reading George Orwell’s book 1984. I have only reached chapter three and discovered disturbing comparisons with the oddly shaped America we live in today. I am not a conspiracy theorist, but I will not deny any truth either. I fear the way America is compromising herself due to fear is sadly self-masochistic. When I stop and think about how my fear motivates my thoughts on how fear motivates our actions I acknowledge the conundrum present. So it is with caution that I proceed.
In the book 1984, the most abundantly clear concern that parallels our current state of affairs is the ever-present surveillance. While the world we live in may not have screens monitoring our every movement, it is still safe to say we are under a watchful eye. That haunting eye bearing itself more openly with the relatively recent creation of the Patriot Act that many consider unconstitutional. While this act was born for counter-terrorism purposes, it has also been utilized in ways unrelated to terrorism for the apprehension of your average criminal. At face value this does not seem harmful to the honest hardworking American, but I must remind my readers that, as John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton once said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” This means that with any slight words or actions that COULD be interpreted as terrorist-like-behavior your personal life can be place under the proverbial microscope. I hear the argument that if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to worry about. I find this to be very characteristic of the sheep mentality. If we are not able to retain our privacy at more open levels when, where, why, and who determines the line in the sand. The saying, “You give and inch, they take a mile.” comes to mind. This can of worms could produce a future similar to Orwell’s existence of “Thought Police.” That is more frightening to me than the threat of terrorists.
It is speculated that due to the terrible events that occurred on September 11, 2001, and the fear planted into the hearts of the average American, is what allowed the passing of the Patriot Act. In admittance, I am no sociologist, and therefore no authority to determine such thoughts with certainty, I only humbly offer my take on such events.
Having experienced but a minute fraction of Orwell’s book, I cannot discern where the origination of such blatant oppression is rooted. I am witnessing a rather unnerving trend though, similar to what can be seen in our current society. If we are to make decisions based upon fear, then future decisions will be made by those who do not fear the consequences. Knee jerk reactions to any events in life are very often motivated by fear and more so uneducated. Planting these decisions firmly on the rationale of comfort and absolute safety, not intelligible resolution. While this behavior works quite well in the primitive fight or flight response to immediate life or death situations, it has no place in the determination of long-term social policy decisions.
Terrorism is defined by Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary as, “the use of violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to achieve a political goal.” We have already allowed the terrorists responsible for the attack on 9/11 to achieve their main objective. Out of fear we have sacrificed freedoms that embody the American way, all in the name of safety. However, when I step outside my house, or reside within for that matter, I am at risk of death or dismemberment by my own.
I do not believe the American government has any intention of controlling our minds or any ridiculous nonsense of that nature. I believe that those successful at their jobs are often in positions of power, and as such continue to look for avenues to excel. Just as an individual who works for the National Security Agency wishes to apprehend terrorists he will naturally exploit all possible options to achieve his goal. This is a healthy drive, but one we must remember to govern appropriately as a nation built upon democracy. We should constantly and objectively scrutinize all decisions made that affect the very freedoms the same organizations exist to protect.
Thanks for reading, and as always I love you guys!