I was on vacation last week, and for the most part stayed totally out of touch with the rest of the world. My stress level dropped to its lowest level in years. I didn’t think much about the end of civilization, mass extinction, the predations of the Bush administration, or whether I will find a job next year. I enjoyed mountain scenery (including spectacular wildflowers near Ouray, Colorado) and the company of my kind and beautiful wife.
When I returned and got “plugged in” again, I discovered (as I feared when I left) that things had gotten much worse. Congress had once more bitten from the fruit of fear that seems to be the president’s only remaining power tool, and actually expanded the NSA surveillance program which, on its face, is a clear violation of the Constitution’s privacy protections. Our government claims to be against terrorism, but by removing our civil liberties, won in a time of much greater peril than what we are experiencing now, it is giving the terrorists exactly what they want: the dismemberment of our free society.
I think it really comes down to how people react to threats. I tend to become briefly angry, then emotionally detached and deliberate rather than scared and impulsive. If people are threatening you, it makes the most sense to create more FRIENDS, rather than filtering out only those people you feel comfortable with and wasting effort on an unsustainable firewall against the rest of the world.
Bush, like the terrorists, insists on using fear as a tool for political gain. Instead of giving in to fear, our representatives must be deliberate in protecting not only lives, but the institutions that make those lives worth living. I don’t personally want to live in the oligarchy that Bush and his allies favor, any more than the theocracy that bin Laden and his supporters want. An uncorrupted representative democracy suits me just fine, thank you.