Sunday, March 23, 2014
I dropped my phone yesterday after leaving the Coach House Diner. Spring has sprung and with my usual spring time cold, I guess I was in a bit of a fog and so could not keep grip on the device that has become such a part of my life over the last few years.
The phone survived the fall, but the battery popped out the back and landed in a puddle of water – thus becoming in operative.
Such is technology’s biggest flaw. For all the idiots I see riding bicycles and running pedestrians down on sidewalks in their effort to reduce the carbon imprint, we all have made things infinitely worse with our collection of “devices,” so that we undo with our texting fingers that we supposedly make up with our arrogant wheeling.
Anyway, with wounded phone in hand I went to the center a block away, purchased a new battery while also paying my bill – although in truth, some other fool at the head of the line had such as problem as it took all the attention of the one person working there that I had to wander off for a time to check out the Salvation Army before returning to get my device fixed.
In the meantime, I’m sure this frustrated the NSA to no end not to know where I was at that moment, and was sending their array of satellites overhead to search me out the way the rest of the world was doing for the plane lost in the
Indian Ocean a whole day a way
from Union City/North Bergen.
This idea that these jerks can be trusted to look out for our best interests makes me laugh. We’re still trying to justify the fact that the CIA when no one was looking decided they could torture people in the name of freedom, ignoring the basic precepts of the Bill of Rights. Can we trust people who have infinite power and no accountability to resist their own savage urges?
I think not. Especially when we have a president who always wanted to be James Bond when he was a kid, and now that he has the power to do so, has given these same jerks license to kill. Which is worse: a president who allows the CIA and NSA to torture people, or one that likes to send them off to kill them in secret?
I had a heated discussion with a coworker over red light cameras – or for that matter the array of private security cameras that have taken the place of big brother over the last two decades.
Of course, human beings can’t be trusted to do the right thing. The choice of right and wrong is always the great challenge in our lives, but it is the rising above the base human instincts, the ability to choose right over wrong that gives our race its greatest potential, what makes good people stand out in a crowd of selfish, mean-spirited savages that gives the world hope.
There will always be people who choose to ignore rules, to place themselves above all others, to want to run red lights, sell dope, murder or torture people. But generally, as Snowden has shown, the ones we need to watch are generally on the wrong side of the cameras.
As much as I hate all the cars that roar down my street, I hate more the idea that we need to control them through some elite police force that knows better than we do what is right or wrong, and that by force of camera or gun or water torture, will control us against our worst instincts.
True, some people do not learn from their mistakes. Most don’t. But those that do evolve, who grow up and become powerful forces for good, aren’t motivated by someone holding a gun to their head or watching their every move.
My colleague argued that there is a difference between private and public spaces, and that the state has a right to watch what we do in public. I disagree. We do not shed our basic rights for privacy the way we might a coat, taking them off when we go outside.
And how are we to know who are the truly heroic, the people who will choose right over wrong, unless we give them freedom to choose without intimidation and without constant supervision by a pack of power hungry secret agents?
Teach people to be good, then let them earn the right to be called good without holding their toes to the fire.
If they prove us wrong, then shame on them. But we will never tell the good from the bad if we watch everybody all the time. We’ll only create a race of people who will never come to make the choice on their own, and will walk around like robots, doing and saying what people expect, and when no one is looking, doing what they want anyway, and most likely, not good things.
So when I finally got the new battery and paid my bill, I still could not get reconnected to the NSA, since the new battery needed to be charged, and for a brief time walking the streets near the Coach House Diner on this fantastic day in spring, I fell off the grid.
And it felt wonderful!