In this article about privacy, civil liberties and the way the “war on terror” has become a war on all of us, John Pilger asks “What are you going to do about it?”
Well, here’s my question, John: What can I do about it?
It’s easy to point out problems. Easy to rise in righteous wrath. Now you tell me – what can I do about it? You’ve just described all the bad things that happen to those who dissent, the frightening powers that the already powerful have taken unto themselves, the ease with which complicitous nation states conspire to override opposition. What can I do about it?
I have a family, a career, level of comfort that 99% of the world would be very envious of. Should I endanger myself, my family, my friends? Should I risk a life lost, or spent in prison, or unemployed? My reputation ruined? For what exactly?
Look at those who worked to changed the world for the better against the forces of oppression – with rare exceptions they suffered, often long, and in many cases died. Are these the role models we should follow? Or perhaps I should cut to the chase by setting myself alight on the steps of Parliament House?
Oh, I know all the arguments – “First they came for the Jews” etc, but “dulce et decorum est, pro patria mori” comes in many forms, and from many groups, all seeking others’ sacrifice.
“J’ accuse”, said Emile Zola – and had to flee the country. Assange is in good company.
We sit, metaphorically speaking, in our cosy club rooms. How passionately we discuss the world, as the smoke rises from our cigars, wreathing the brandy snifters. For all that we know what should be done, we don’t seem to know what we can do.
So, again: What can I do?
[Update: For some ideas, see this article at Privacy.Org]