Thoughts for the Week (December 5-12, 2010):
Julian Assange–This week Mr. Assange, the Australian journalist and founder of WikiLeaks, was arrested for crimes against two woman. Time and the courts will tell whether he is guilty of these crimes. Yet Mr. Assange has already taken responsibility for a different very serious offense, that is the leaking of thousands of sensitive documents—many of which may be endangering the safety of U.S. and other servicemen. It is exasperating to me that certain individuals maintain a holier than thou attitude of knowing more or better than the rest of us what is best for us and for the world. Mr. Assange’s philosophy has been quoted as “To radically shift regime behavior we must think clearly and boldly for if we have learned anything, it is that regimes do not want to be changed. We must think beyond those who have gone before us and discover technological changes that embolden us with ways to act in which our forebears could not . . . The more secretive or unjust an organisation is, the more leaks induce fear and paranoia in its leadership and planning coterie. … Since unjust systems, by their nature induce opponents, and in many places barely have the upper hand, mass leaking leaves them exquisitely vulnerable to those who seek to replace them with more open forms of governance.”
I understand that some things which happen nationally or globally behind the scenes would be best exposed. Certainly abuses in human rights need to see the light of day so they can be exposed and prevented in the future. Yet it seems to me to be a dangerous trend to force a society to allow all of its actions–including military secrets–to be exposed and spotlighted on a world stage for everyone to see.
Daniel Yates, a former British military intelligence officer, wrote “Assange has seriously endangered the lives of Afghan civilians …”
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,. Mike Mullen, said, “Mr. Assange can say whatever he likes about the greater good he thinks he and his source are doing, but the truth is, they might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family.”
U.S. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell has called Assange “a high-tech terrorist”.
(Thanks to Wikipedia for the above quotations).
As for me, every year or two we freely elect people to run our government. I am content to allow those representatives (who have much more information and expertise than I) to hold in confidence that which they feel is truly in the nation’s best interest to do so. I would ask that Mr. Assange and his WikiLeaks organization do the same.
Elizabeth Edwards: The elusive definition of grace received a new meaning this week with the death of Elizabeth Edwards, an attorney, wife, mother, and political activist who was against the War in Iraq and who waged battles on behalf of universal health care and gay rights. Throughout the Kerry/Edwards vs. Bush/Cheney election fight, throughout her struggle against breast cancer, and throughout her husband’s infidelity scandal, she maintained her honor and dignity, and came to symbolize hope and grace for young and old–Democrat and Republican alike. I have added her last facebook entry to my own profile list of favorite quotations:
The days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered. We know that. And, yes, there are certainly times when we aren’t able to muster as much strength and patience as we would like. It’s called being human.But I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. And for that I am grateful.” —Elizabeth Edwards
Peace be with you always, Elizabeth, and may your family hold in their hearts and minds the most beautiful images of a wonderful woman.
And finally, a few thoughts about that most essential of modern inventions, the GPS.
I bought my Garmin GPS about two years ago in anticipation of my cross-country trip shortly after I retired from 35 years as a teacher and principal. It has since proven to be the one tech gadget I can not live without. OK, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but it is certainly the one that I try to never leave home without (Please excuse the mangled syntax and ending preposition). It has made maps and mapquest obsolete. I no longer need to listen to well-intentioned long-winded directions given by well-meaning friends. I no longer need to rely on a co-pilot next to me armed with the latest AAA map. I just type in my destination, and Jill (the American English voice of my GPS) directs me every step of the way. If I make any kind of mistake, I inevitably hear those sometimes dreaded/sometimes welcomed words: “re-caluculating.” I sometimes think if nothing other than the Global Positioning Satellites (GPS) had come from our Space program, it would still be worth it. (Yes, I know that the space program is responsible for far more technological advances than just GPS—just a bit of hyperbole to make a point).
Whether the GPS allows me to expertly navigate around my own lovely Commonwealth of Massachusetts or permits me to travel across the entire country and photograph the awesome sights that our nation offers to us all, it is a technological marvel, and one that benefits us all.
Now if only future techies could develop a GPS that could be activated when a political party seems to have lost its way…
Until next time,