June 20, 2003

Perspective

Are We Letting Big Brother Speak for Us?

By Ernie McCray

Oh, it would be so grand if we, as a gift to our children, delved into our souls and came to realize that they can’t become the kind of loving critically thinking human beings their world demands if we don’t show them the way, if we don’t model what being free is all about.

Just think what a great world we could have if our children could see us truly striving diligently to be all that we can be as a society. At a soulful level. A level beyond boycotting Dixie Chick CD’s and scolding peace loving celebrities. A level deeper than all the flag waving and tying yellow ribbons around tall oak trees and sermonizing about how “freedom isn’t free.”

They’ve seen and heard enough of our loud chest thumping. They get the picture. But what do they see or hear from us when our veryliberties, the most precious elements of our way of life, are threatened? Barely a whimper.

As we praise our troops for fighting the good fight for freedom our nation’s leaders make a mockery of all our past struggles for liberty. They, without a hint of shame, introduce us to a category of people they call “enemy combatants,” people who are arrested because they arethought to be terroists, people who, guilty or not, are allowed no representation of any kind. None. And our children observe no outcry from us. We sit silently. Apathetically. Some hapless guy with ties to the Middle East is going to end up at the wrong place at the wrong timeand find himself on an “enemy combatant” roster. And who cares? Not us. We’re too busy being free. But, thanks to the Patriot Act that gave birth to his dilemma, he won’t have to worry about attorney fees.

Sounds pretty scary to me. Here we are, like characters in George Orwell’s “1984,” allowing an over controlling government, Big Brother, to define our attitudes by determining, among other things, the language we speak. Look how readily we accept practices like referring to innocent casualties of war as “collatoral damage,” mere accident data on “oops” charts - as opposed to sons and daughters and mothersand fathers and uncles and aunts and cousins and friends and grampas and grannies.

I wish we would understand that when we buy into the notion that Big Brother can do no wrong, we enable him to distract us from thinking with our hearts and souls and we slowly lose our God given ability to empathize.We become prone to ignoring the wrong inherent in, say, a Muslim being arrested and detained indefinitely, with no legal defense. We lose the essence of what it means to live in a free society. And Big Brother will create expressions while we sleep like his term for someone who might become a terroist: “potential perpetrator.”

Isn’t the wording alone a direct threat to the children of the world considering that nobody embodies “potential,” in general and in spirit more than they do? Anyone whoends up on a list of “potential perpetrators” years down the line is most likely a child today.It would be so befitting of a democracy, I wouldthink, if we honored the hope that our children represent by speaking out against injustices that threaten their wellbeing in the future. If they see us standing up for and questioning the erosions of our civil and human rights they just might do so also and become “potential creators of a better world.”

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