Comment: “Your idea that we should not worry if government peeks at our communication and that safety and security is more important is in my view a great step backward in evolution.”
Please note what I did say – not to what I did not say. I did not say that we should not worry or be concerned about how much the government spies on individuals. I basically advocate a middle way approach.
To prohibit any type of surveillance of the bad guys at all is an extreme that will diminish freedom just as too much power to monitor the good guys is another extreme that diminishes freedom because of potential abuse.
Maximum freedom for the whole is never found in any extreme, but by making a good judgment found somewhere between the two swings of the pendulum.
During the Civil War a wise man named Abraham Lincoln looked at the two extremes and made some judgments that suspended some liberties of a few to eventually bring greater liberty for the many. He assumed powers close to that of a dictatorship and suspended Habeas Corpus. If a president did that today we would figure that our way of life had come to an end.
Even so, almost all historians agree that on hindsight Lincoln followed a wise course when considering the circumstances he had to deal with. If we had a power hungry man in office in those days, the end of these actions may not have been so rosy, but because we had a man with the good of the nation as his goal the end result was the freedom of the slaves and the salvation of the union which was of prime importance in facing our next great test – World War II.
If Lincoln had been black and white in his thinking in protecting the individual liberties of all in every circumstance, the greater liberation would have been lost.
Even so, you cannot allow the burglar freedom of access to your home else the greater freedom of keeping your hard earned possessions and state of security is lost.
You cannot allow the murderer freedom to roam the streets, or the greater freedom to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness of his future victims will be lost.
And much more important than this you cannot allow terrorists who plot the overthrown of our government, as well as western civilization, the freedom to live in our midst and execute plans to take thousands of lives and destruction which could cost upwards of a trillion dollars. (That’s a thousand billion dollars).
On hindsight, wouldn’t it have been worth a little surveillance of the bad guys with power to prevent them from executing their works on 9/11? I’m not talking about a Big Brother operation here, but a surveillance that truly does go after evil doers.
To live with the fear that every single power given to the government will be targeted mainly toward the innocent common man is as far off base as thinking we can trust the government at all times because it always has our best interests at heart.
Both of these extremes lead to illusion.
The main purpose of government is to protect its citizens. In many cases I think it over protects. I am personally against numerous rules and regulations designed to protect us from ourselves.. But we are dealing with something much more serious than these. We’re dealing with a threat that can end our way of life and one of the few situations where the government having a little power can actually be useful.
To deny the government power to catch the terrorists is as insane as allowing it to be our Big Brother. I am one of the last persons to trust the government (especially with spending our money), but neither do I distrust them completely to the extent I want their hands tied when the rare opportunity comes along when they can do some real good.
I am an advocate of maximum freedom for the whole which in turn translates down to maximum freedom for the individual. If the attention is on individual freedom only then the freedom of the whole will be diminished which in turn will reduce individual freedom.
There are people out there who are so extreme in their vigilance for individual freedom that they have turned their lives into a living hell and wound up losing their freedom in the name of freedom without furthering the cause of freedom one iota.
Then there are those who are fighting the conspiracy of Jews, bankers, invisible government etc. in the name of freedom to the extent they box themselves in and are less free than the carefree man on the street.
I have followed every conceivable conspiracy theory for over thirty years and have found the failure rate of predictions of such advocates is only exceeded by religious zealots predicting the end of the world. For these thirty years I have watched them closely trail the suspected conspirators and make insider predictions as to what these evil beings will do next and in three decades of observation I do not recall even one prediction being accurate.
What does this tell us? It tells us that the conspiracy believers either completely misunderstand the conspirators or are totally deceived about the whole situation to begin with.
I think the latter is the case and that 99% of conspiracy worries are caused by misinformation circulated by the real conspirators for the purpose of shifting our attention away from the their plans.
And what is that?
The real conspiracy is staring us in the face as predicted by the Book of Mormon.
“Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, WHEN YE SHALL SEE THESE THINGS COME AMONG YOU that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you…”
Notice that we are told that the real conspiracy is something that we can “see” among us. It is not some mysterious entity that never reveals itself.
Even so, the conspiracy among the ancient Nephites also became highly visible. Never did it remain forever behind the scenes to the extent that it was never seen for what it was. It’s works and plans were secret but its existence was visible for all to see.
The key to avoid destruction given by the ancient prophet was that we would actually “see these things come among you” just as they did in ancient times.
In that time the Gadianton Robbers were not some invisible force that operated decade after decade invisibly behind the scenes with no one being able to figure out who they were. The Nephites knew who they were. Sometimes they acted and put them in their place, but other times they let fear or groupthink overtake them and did not act, but let the conspirators overrun the land and eventually destroy the people.
Nothing would please the Dark Brothers more than if we were to spin our wheels looking in the wrong place for a batch of invisible conspirators who never show themselves while we give the visible conspirators full power to live among us and destroy us – the same mistake, made by the ancient Nephites.
The most important purpose stated in the book was to warn us, so we could avoid a fate similar to that which they suffered.
Let me end here by making a few additional remarks on freedom. I have great respect for all those who are vigilant for the cause of freedom. I suspect, however, that one of the main reasons some doubt my own wisdom in the matter are my remarks about surveillance and that I do not care who reads my e-mail.
Let me first emphasize this point. Whether or not the government agencies have access to screen e-mails in search for terrorists or whatever has nothing to do with the principle of freedom.
Someone watching me send and receive e-mails does not take any freedom away any more than some person watching me drive to and from work. It may be a little creepy to learn that some neighbor, cop or whatever watches me drive to work everyday, but as long as he does me no harm contrary to just law there is absolutely no freedom taken away from me.
Why do I feel no concern because every man and his dog can watch me drive to work?
Because the chances of anyone having the motivation to do this is very slim. If the police or some authorities were staking me out the chances are they would have some just cause. (Of course, I realize there are some exceptions).
This same principle applies with e-mails. The chances of some bureaucrats (even if they have authority) sitting at a computer going through my e-mails is so slim when they have bigger fish to fry that the concern is about as much as my concern about a stakeout taking place across the street from me.
Now let us suppose the worst. Let us suppose that the powers-that-be suspect one certain individual of wrong-doing and they do their worst to him as far as surveillance is concerned. They stake him out and watch his every move. They place a bug in his house and listen to his every spoken word. They use special technology and read everything on his hard drive including all his e-mails. They listen in on all his telephone conversations. They interview all his friends, enemies and business associates to gather all data possible on him. They find out what books he reads, check out his buying habits, who he donates money to etc.
In other words, they do their damnedest to read this guy like an open book – his life is completely exposed.
Now I will be the first to admit that the average person would feel somewhat intruded upon and perhaps creepy about being watched so carefully, but let us suppose he was oblivious to this fact and the guy was on the fringe in a lot of ways, but basically law abiding.
Is there any freedom lost? If so, which one?
Does he have as much freedom of speech as you and I who are not under surveillance?
Yes. He does. If he wants to he can publish ads and make hundreds of phone calls advocating any unpopular point of view that he wants.
Does he still have the right to bear arms? Yes. A million people looking in on him cannot take away that right.
Can the guy write what he wants, read what he wants, travel where he wants, work where he wants, spend on whatever he wants, date who he wants, listen to the music he wants, make friends with whoever he wants…?
Yes, yes and yes.
Now suppose he finds out he is under surveillance? Is there any change in his freedom to do whatever he wants?
No. He may be irritated that he has no privacy, but his power of freedom remains unchanged.
Now there is always a danger of authorities with an agenda spying on a victim in order to drum up a distorted or false charge to get him out of the way. But this happens in every society where there exists corrupt officials. Such corrupt individuals will even break their own laws to eliminate their enemies so even the strictest privacy laws often have little effect.
I knew I may raise some eyebrows when I brought this subject up, but I did for an important reason.
I strongly support the principle of freedom, but if we are to not only keep our freedoms, but also increase them, we must put our attention where freedom is, not where it is not.
I have found that many advocates of freedom seem much more concerned about the government having any power to monitor the bad guys or some imaginary antichrist overtaking their lives than standing up for freedom itself.
Many who claim to be advocates of freedom are clamoring for more and more laws which will restrict freedom. They do not see it this way because the laws they support just take away freedom from those who do not believe as they do.
A person who does not drink wine, for instance, may feel that no freedom is lost through a law restricting its use because it does not affect him.
Every law is a restriction of freedom and thus the true advocates of freedom will seek a society that operates with a bare minimum of laws. Most countries would be much better off if most of their laws were eliminated, thus expanding the power of individual and group freedom.
The laws that remain will restrict the lesser freedoms to insure the greater freedoms.
Let us suppose that the prophecy of Jesus came literally true stating “there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.” Luke 12:2-3
If this were to literally come true that nothing could be hidden from the authorities or anyone else then our freedom would still be governed by the same principle.
And what is that?
Our civil freedoms are governed by law. The only way to expand our civil freedoms is through the wise passing and application of law.
This is also true on a higher level. The way of increasing our spiritual freedom is to understand the natural laws which govern us and use them wisely to create the end we desire.
As I proceed to increase my own spiritual freedom I sense that I realize I could be watched 24 hours a day by higher authorities, yet my freedom is unabridged.
“You are taking the place of a creative worker who succumbed-sincerely and honestly-to the glamour of a “free and independent soul”-a paradoxical idea and one which shows forgetfulness of the fact that the heresy of separateness, of aloneness and of independence is a part of the world glamour. This brother was thus unable to cooperate and valued his “personal freedom” higher than the planned group activity and thus for two years delayed this group of workers from arriving at the intended activity. Will you, therefore, seek rapid integration in order to hasten the intended accomplishment?” Djwhal Khul, Discipleship in the new Age- Vol 1, Pages 132-133
Oct 3, 2001
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