Transparency, trust and living in a police state

Shortly following the WTC attacks, i remember reading about a young girl who turned to her mother and pointed to the TV and remarked at how pretty the images were. This was a reminder of how attuned we are to seeing the TV as fiction and disassociating from the images we see there. Stories become fiction easily, and we have to mentally work at making them real.

Of course, we have learned to treat the web in the same fashion. If you read something really moving online, you are to assume that it is a hoax. It was with this vantage point that i read Jason Halperin’s (Doctors Without Borders) account of life inside the Patriot Act. Of course, this is absolutely horrifying and of course i desperately want this to be true, to magnify my frustration with our current system. Yet, i had these intense doubts; conveniently, they were relieved by source checking with Doctors Without Borders (via email from the webmaster).

This experience makes me think strongly about my motivations. I actively want reasons to hate our system because i see it as oppressive and colonialist. Yet, how much are the lens through which i am observing and experiencing clouding the magnitude in which i disagree with our system?

Secondly, why do we live in a system where we cannot trust what we read or hear? How easily is it to get swept up in social movements? At the same time, it frustrates me that anti-governmental rhetoric can be easily invalidated by those in power, yet the public has no way of checking the facts that the government presents. This lack of equality is my primary source of frustration – power begets power and marginalizes those who disagree. This immediately brings out my childish tendencies to scream “it’s not fair!”

The lack of equality is why i crave systemic transparency. I just simply cannot believe that universal transparency is desireable (unless you are libertarian and have lots of privilege). Universal transparency disempowers individuals while not actually requiring checks upon the government. How can transparency be used to more actively even the playing fields? And how can it be used to allow me to build trust in humanity? ::sigh::

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