Most people think that the terrorist of September 11th destroyed only the World Trade Center. They destroyed much more. Life in the United States, even for citizens, has never been and never will be the same.
And, people wonder why I have become cynical...
I wrote the above lines several weeks ago, after reading a New Yorker article titled “Deportation Machine”. I wanted to link to it, but it is behind a pay wall. Because I subscribe to the print edition (which I have, off and on, for fifty years), I read the entire article and was shocked and disappointed. This provided one more justification for living in another country.
That said, recent revelations about government disregard for personal freedom, despite being guaranteed by the Constitution--a document held so holy by gun advocates--drive home what I wrote. The people that planned and executed the attacks on September 11, 2001, destroyed a way of life (even if it had been deteriorating for years). This is sad, because life in the United States used to be good for the majority.
But, the root cause is the drang for profit. Corporations earn billions providing “security”, surveillance, and prisons. The innocent might not have anything to fear from government surveillance, but the same people define “innocence”. With the need to ensure and to increase profits from prisons, who knows what will be defined as “crime”, now that the government knows what everyone thinks?
I grew up in a democracy during a time when questioning was the norm. Perhaps, some of this was a direct response to the totalitarian nature of the imagined Enemy of that time. I do not know, and that matters little.
I also do not know how I would react to restriction of freedom to question and to speak out. I try to see both sides of an argument or issue and select the one that makes the most sense. What would I do if the one that made the least sense became the norm and dissent was punished?
I noticed the following headline in an English newspaper:
How Britain can restore freedom to Europe
Living in Europe, I was surprised to learn that I am not free. Perhaps, I miss the “freedom” to pay money to support the richest, most-rapacious family (* see below for just one example) in a lavish lifestyle and in their role as tourist attraction. Perhaps, I miss the freedom to bow down to a bunch of arrogant, self-indulgent inbred intellectual pygmies. Perhaps, I miss the freedom to be ruled by people of a third-world nation, who dwell in a past long-forgotten (but is kept alive by them...and many of their former victims).
* Headline in another paper on the same day:
Revealed: How Prince Charles receives £1m from the estates of subjects who die without wills thanks to a medieval law
I found an interesting and thought-provoking quote in the biography of Somerset Maugham, which I am currently reading. He is writing about France and the French character following their capitulation to the Germans in World War II. His judgment is based upon having lived many years in France (he was born in Paris) and a recent tour of the country to inspect war preparations for the British government.
“If a nation values anything more than their freedom, it will
lose its freedom, and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or
money that it values more, it will lose that too.” (italics mine)
US politicians run continually freedom up the flagpole for all to salute, because they know the truth of these words…and recognize the warning.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.