Sunday, December 18, 2005

A challenge: What are we worth?

In response to Eric Muller's citation (which deserves special mention as one of the best "go read this" posts I've ever read) of the new revelations that the President authorized secret and probably illegal surveillance within the US by US intelligence agencies, frequent commenter, law student, good citizen and sometime blogger David Marshall wrote:
You're pissed? Try walking in my shoes! Twenty two years in the military. Twenty two years of wars, and conflicts, pain and discomfort, of being away from my family months on end. Never for glory. Never for money. Just this immigrant's belief that America's freedoms and liberties are worth any sacrifice to defend.

I'm sad, disappointed, and outraged that my government has decided my sacrifice and the sacrifice of millions of other Americans is worth nothing. That the ideals we fight for are no longer important. That liberty is a commodity to be traded in exchange for security.

People trust their government. They should not. Can we fault education? What has happened to the high school civics lessons that obligate us to vigilance? Where are the history courses that warn the citizenry of past abuses? Where are the political science classes that explain the rationale for a form of government grounded on a system of checks and balances? Who has failed to point out in psychology courses that man will be tempted and corrupted by power at every opportunity? Where are the educators who praise the American virtue of questioning authority? Of being rugged individuals who take control of government, rather than allowing government to control us? That we are the masters of our own destiny, and that we should hold any member of the government accountable for undermining our autonomy and personal self-worth?

We have defiled every good intention, every carefully drafted provision, every principle of freedom and human dignity wisely devised by our founding fathers, and kept safe and improved on by generations of vigilant Americans, for the common good. We have forgotten what the sacrifices are for.

We have been made weak by fear, and that is something I would never have predicted when I came to this country.
I can't improve on that. Except by continuing to question, challenge and otherwise honor the legacy of participatory democracy which we must preserve to pass on to our children and our future.

Sideshow has some worthwhile reading on the subject, and one of the great muckrakers has passed just in time for us to learn a lesson from him. Still not sure? Wanna put your fate and freedom in the hands of the "just trust us" crew? [via]

People get more or less the government they deserve, someone once said....

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