The View From Inside

An ordinary citizen, in this land where I am, lives an ordinary life, and thinks nothing of it.  He wakes up in the morning, eats breakfast, goes to work, eats lunch, works, comes home in the evening, fixes dinner, does something in the evening, and goes to bed.  An ordinary person here doesn’t know that wikipedia is blocked, because he doesn’t know about wikipedia.  Ordinary citizens in the USA have similar experiences.  From inside either life, the view is normal.  You don’t know you are in a cage until you butt up against the bars.   
 
Maybe it doesn’t matter to you that someone is keeping a record of your cell phone calls or maybe monitoring them.  Or, maybe it doesn’t matter to you that voting district lines are gerrymandered to maximize the voting block of the party in power or that ballot instructions are confusing.  Maybe you never wondered how it came to be that so many of the people who own land on the shores of Lake Murray — a hydroelectric power created lake — trace their land title back to officials who worked for the electric company, who in turn purchased it for a song after the land was taken from the original owners in order to build the dam. 
 
What is shocking to me, is that there are so many similarities between two systems that throughout my childhood I was taught were so different.  Nevertheless, one does have more freedom than the other.  But freedom is endangered everywhere.  If you and I are not vigilant to protect those differences, we may find the bars of the cage closer than we had previously imagined possible.  The interesting thing is that there is always some good reason to curtail freedom.  Freedom is messy.  It leads to social unrest, revealing discontent among citizens, injustices.  Freedom of speech and inquiry leads to uncomfortable questions aimed at those in charge of policy.  Too much trouble! 
 
I’d venture to guess that an ordinary citizen has no idea about the issues that keep these guys featured in this article busy, or that these guys even exist.  And, if they are known, it’s almost as likely that they are just perceived as troublemakers:  http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/25/world/asia/25china.html?ex=1330146000&en=55df621e655a238a&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink .   Just as some people think the ACLU in the USA is just a bunch of meddlesome troublemakers.  But there’s a reason for the Freedom of Information Act!  My bet is that within one week the above link will not function on a computer located within my geographic location.  Let’s see if that’s true or not.  My bet is that the ruling parties in the USA have things so tied up that only power-hungry, maniuplative people can get on the ballot, that ordinary people will be so repulsed by the process that they won’t want to get involved, and that the people in power will do anything they can to keep it that way. 
 
Am I a cynic or what? 
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1 Comment

Filed under Rants

One response to “The View From Inside

  1. Alex

    For what it\’s worth, I lost my bet!  As of December 2007, the link still works!  I\’m not sure how the NYT does it.  They publish things that I judge must be controversial, but I notice the links are rarely blocked.  This in in sharp contrast to the Washington Post.  Not just some of the time, but most of the time, pages from Washington Post don\’t load.  Well, actually, that\’s not what happens.  The page loads fully, but when it finishes loading there is a popup window that says the page won\’t load.  When you click "okay," the whole page disappears into a 404 error.  I\’ve learned that if I can read fast enough, my internet is slow enough that I can usually read the page before the whole thing loads and disappears.  But, that\’s only because I\’m a fast reader!  Otherwise, it\’s impossible to read the pages. 

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