Pondering Liberty as We Celebrate Our Independence

A Boomer’s Journal

By Tom Anselm

We face Independence Day 2013 with the possibility that our personal privacy is less secure than it has been since those days over 200 years ago when Great Britain was boss over the colonies.  Illegal search was a frequent occurrence then, the inhabitants of the towns were being closely monitored, and many felt that the governing body and it’s head leader were indifferent to their wishes.  Sort of like today, to some extent.

For example, as a Verizon customer, I recently found out that my phone records have been in the hands of a national security agency for several years.  Not that I called anyone who was plotting against our country, but it is still unnerving that a government entity could know who was on my contact list.

I guess we live in an age where to be connected means to give  up some privacy.  Maybe we’ve done it to ourselves.  There’s  Facebook, of course, and the Internet and the previously mentioned  cell phone and LinkdeIn and Twitter, and probably a few others I haven’t heard of yet.

Nearly everyone has a camera and video on their cell phone, so nearly everything can be put up on youTube in seconds of it happening for all the world to see and make stupid comments about.

Not to mention the fact that there are security cameras on every other pole and parking lot, and I read that the City of St. Louis Police Department is hoping to get some drone airplanes to further “provide safety” to it’s citizens. So it should come as no surprise that whatever goes out on The Great Airwaves is fair game for someone to find and use to their advantage.  Still, the fact that it was our own guys who were doing the looking, well, it feels Big Brother-ish to say the least.

There are many who will say this is a good thing.  That the advent of cell phones has made us safer, given us more contact with our loved ones.  But have you ever left the house and forgotten yours and turned around to come back for it?  I have. Can we say “slave-like obsession”?  Well, maybe not as bad as those who always must have their phone on the table top when eating, scanning it at family gatherings, texting in the car.  Not safe at any speed.  Are  we paying a price for all this connectedness?

And maybe having so many security cameras is okay.  I mean, don’t we have instantaneous visuals of every smash-and-grab criminal and poorly-disguised bankrobber?  How about the way the Boston police and FBI found those “alleged” bombers.

Some say if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to worry about.  I can see that, to an extent.  But I still am feeling a bit creeped out with all is surveillance going on.  Maybe this is how the Founding Fathers felt when the Redcoats came banging on their doors.

It is unlikely that we will give up our tools of connection.  But the question can be fairly asked…  is our liberty at stake these days because of them?

As for now, I have to make a phone call. Should I say “hello, National Security Agency, can you please patch me through to my wife?”

Things to ponder on the 237th celebration of our Declaration of Independence. Happy 4th of July




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