They are watching us. They are listening to our calls. For so long those who have been saying this, have been labelled ‘conspiracy theorists.’
In the absence of any concrete proof it is a fairly standard way to deny this reality. But then a young man from America, had the courage of his conviction to take a stand. And for his trouble his life will probably never be the same again. Ladies and gents, I’m talking about Edward Snowden.
But what are we dealing with over here? We are dealing with the issue of people’s right to privacy. A democratically elected government has to ‘care’ for its people. It has to provide services and protect them. But how private are we really? Modern technology (e.g. cellphone beacon reports) allows anyone with the right equipment to track us down anyway. But they don’t have to really use it as we tell people voluntarily where we are. You may post on Facebook ‘so looking forward to our week long holiday in Hermanus.’ Then the friend comes on and says: ‘Wow, envy you guys, where are you staying?’ And then the reply: ‘We were lucky, hubby managed to get a booking at Fig Tree B & B.’ And then later the proof as mobile uploads are shared with friends.
So there is a new enemy. There is a new man that needs to be smoked out and hunted down. I’m not going to go into the details of what he leaked. Of course he needs to be mindful of the laws of the country and I am not convinced that he was not. He was probably faced with an ethical dilemma. He was looking to what’s going on and thought ‘No man, this is not on!’ And then he had to consider his options. Spill the beans or zip the lips? And then he had to try and calculate the consequences. The easy option is to say nothing. No consequences. But if he says something, what will happen? How does it impact his life, and that of his family? I saw an interview that was conducted with his father and he describes his son as someone ‘bright’; someone who thinks about stuff, right and wrong. And I must say I like how he is supporting his son. Naturally no one wants to be in this type of situation, none of us like any sort of trouble.
It’s nice to look at Edward’s dilemma from a safe distance and to discuss the principles. But how do we act when confronted with ethical dilemmas. Sadly, for many it’s not even a discussion. Some people will never, as in never ever take a stand for what is right. It’s too scary, too unpopular. Say you discover that your boss has been defrauding your company. What do you do? Again, for some it’s really a nothing. It may bug him a tiny little bit but nothing that a ‘cold one or two’ cannot take care of. And then the next day, it’s business as usual. Actually they are now even closer because they share a little secret. They may never even talk about it- it will just be in the eyes. Only they know that they know. The subordinate may even himself in the fortunate position of an unexpected promotion when the company restructures again. Let’s just call it a meeting of the minds (and eyes)
Opinions will be divided about Edward is doing. The debate may even be sidetracked to the technical aspects, for example his contractual obligations, the countries where he is applying for political asylum (apparently he has applied to 20 countries) or the tense relations between the US and these countries. Unfortunately the chances of surviving this kind of ordeal are very slim. Once you’re in (and have access to the privileged information), you have to see it through to the end. If you don’t, it usually does not end well. And in this regard, many people have become involved with things because they thought it was good for their careers. Later when they realized what they signed up for, they had a small problem: unfortunately no option to exit. Phil Schneider was a good example. Even to this day his death is a mystery.
Hopefully Edward can get the opportunity to show and explain to the American people what his concerns were and why he took the steps he did. But will this happen? He is up against an enemy that is highly experienced and skilled in the art of managing (mis) information and explaining their way out of scandal.
Are we approaching a time when doing good is regarded as evil? Or, are we already there?
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