Last night we had lots of company - as we usually do this time of year on the ol' homestead - and of course the late night conversation out on the back deck veered into NSA/Spy-State and what in the world the government would be so concerned about in our mundane daily lives that they'd try to justify an overwhelming (of OUR rights) 'need' to monitor and record our entire analog / digital existence. On its face it should outrage EVERY citizen of this nation, after years of enforced economic recession, massive unemployment, millions of families losing their homes and lands, retirements looted, etc., etc., etc., to find out the government's spending God Only Knows how much on this sort of pointless crap.
There is something of vital importance on the line at this point, that we all need to understand clearly. Do we surrender without a fight our nation, our way of life, our childrens' and descendants' entire future, just because we're too damned lazy, apathetic, or thoroughly hypnotized to exercise our power? Our guests and household members all seem to understand what's at stake. We differ slightly on how we might deal with it politically, but the most interesting positions (to me) have to do with the rationalizations we've heard and possibly rejected. WHY are they doing this, WHAT is its purpose, and WHO exactly is doing it.
When my turn to opine came, my position as Matriarch and oldest living member of the tribe allows me quite a bit of leeway as well as more than polite attention. So I used the opportunity to talk about my experience growing up and becoming politically aware. Hub and I are certified 1951 Boomers. We grew up in the first generation post-WW2... or, post-nuclear WMDs if you prefer. ALL of our childhood years were spent living under the constant overt 'threat' of Instant Human Annihilation. If we didn't toe the line, 'they' would make humanity extinct. Just because they could.
Duck and Cover drills, endlessly. Back yard fallout shelters stocked with months' worth of water and provisions. The basement level of just about every solidly-built commercial building in town had its government-provided provisions, we had CD personnel in the police and fire departments, we were all totally familiar with the signs and instructions for when we'd need to seek shelter and obey our designated CD caretakers unquestionably...
I'd always had a bad attitude. Comes no doubt from being born to the U.S. Navy. Dad was Planning Officer at Subic during the Korean 'conflict' when I was born. That's why I am currently non-existent according to the federal imposed-to-state level, but that's another story altogether. Anyway, having an extensive experience with the military's take on such things, by the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis and Dad's first MIC corporate job after the Navy, I didn't spend any time being afraid of the public rhetoric. Dad taught physics and electrical engineering for awhile at The Citadel too, had been attached to the Pentagon when next younger sister was born, before he went through the revolving door to the contractor end where he eventually helped develop the ceramic heat tiles and computers for the Apollo missions. The nation's economy was booming, veterans from all backgrounds were quickly creating the greatest Middle Class the world had ever known, despite the underlying undercurrent of MAD. People generally didn't take it all THAT seriously. Until those six days in October...
I was in the sixth grade when it happened. First post-Navy 'new school', in a long line of new schools thus far. I was quite used to it. As the crisis developed, we got a new student in our class, a red-headed boy named Ira who had come with his mother to his grandparents house in our tiny town because they'd been evacuated from Gitmo Bay, where his father was stationed [Marines]. He and I became immediate friends, the only people in our western New York state class who sort of knew things about the game being played. We talked about it quite a lot, and made a pact not to be afraid.
It steadily got worse, day to day. The very first time a television tuned to the regular national broadcast news ever showed up in a classroom of mine, the teachers from 6th grade through high school (attached) let us just sit and watch all day long. The news was dire, the End Of The World was at hand, and all the adults in our lives became steadily more and more terrified. To which Ira and I reacted as we'd agreed to do - We Are Not Afraid.
We reasoned that there was nothing at all to be gained by making humanity extinct, since those making the decisions were also human. Still, they blustered and bloviated and acted all terrified. SuperCereal [ht: South Park] newscasters grimly reported every detail as it came in. It seemed like everyone was convinced we were ALL about to die. Ira and I didn't believe it for a moment.
That last long day I shook my fist at the sky during after-lunch on the playground - "Drop it or shut up about it!" Like a personal dare to those threatening everyone's life.
Sure enough, they didn't kill us all. Probably not because of my measly shaken fist. And at no point from there all the way through the ignoble end of the ignoble Cold War, they never again ventured that close to the edge. Even as the stockpiles and the yields kept going higher and higher, at more and more expense (conveniently covered by We The People). Fallout shelters fell out of favor outside Tornado Alley. Provisions in commercial basements rotted. Nobody gave a shit anymore, the threat had lost its existential punch.
Fast forward. Now they want me to be terrified of assorted unknown stateless actors somewhere, sometime. That's why they call 'em "terrorists." Yet it's a very simple google search to discover that I'm in more danger of being killed in any given year by lightning than faceless terrorists. And that doesn't even begin to compare to home accidents, auto mishaps, plain old murder, heart disease, cancer, or any other prominent cause of death in the world today.
I am not afraid.
I haven't been really afraid of teh gub'mint since. They do still piss me off fairly regularly. I wasn't afraid on 9-11. I'm not shaking in my boots now. Terrorists present little to no threat to me and mine. The government's paranoia, on the other hand, is definitely an issue. Because it has abrogated my rights. This is not okay with me.
There seems to be a rather large disconnect between some Kossacks and reality. It can't be simple blindness, because it's responsible for much of the pie-throwing over the past couple of weeks. I'm beginning to learn that this is some sort of "Third Way" thing, but I'd have to go looking to find out what that viewpoint dictates when teh gub'mint sends things FUBAR. Makes no obvious sense from here. Perhaps because...
I am not afraid.
What is at stake right now is the very same thing that was at stake in the bad old Cold War. If that was never really about human extinction, then today's overt goal(s) aren't about any big deal threat from random/anonymous 'terrorists'. It's about US, because we are the only ones with the real power to call an abrupt halt to it.
The existential 'threat' in my day was global nuclear war. That's a whole helluva lot more scary than assorted cave dwellers, desert nomads, possibly smart 'visitors' taking flying lessons, or even hard core domestic assholes like Tim McVeigh. Why on earth would anyone expect me to surrender now, if I haven't surrendered at any point between then and now? Again, absurd.
I am not afraid.
It's about controlling us, not about killing us, or disappearing or torturing us, or any other awful consequence of the new "National Security State." It's about controlling us through fear. That is what it's always been about.
I am not afraid.