By Kelly Boggs, Editor
In the classic work 1984, George Orwell wrote about a day when government would eventually morph into a ubiquitous, all-seeing, all-controlling Big Brother. While the British author’s prognostication might have been off a few decades, his fictitious view of the future seems to be slowly, but surely, becoming reality.
Conservatives, liberals and libertarians don’t agree on much. However, there is one subject that most see eye-to-eye on, which is that our world is becoming more monitored and more regulated with each passing day. And while government isn’t always the culprit, we nonetheless are being watched.
Surveillance cameras abound. Most of our movements can be traced by surveillance cameras strategically positioned in parking lots, stores, ATMs and on traffic lights.
If while going through airport security you are randomly selected or happen to have the tiniest bit of metal on you, you are likely to be subjected to scrutiny just short of a strip search. Actually, these days you might even be subjected to scrutiny sans your clothing.
Have you noticed the packaging on most items today? It takes special tools and training to open a new CD or DVD. And make sure all the security tags are removed from clothing or you will have the joy of hearing a store’s anti-theft detection alarm go off.
Don’t expect security measures to decrease anytime soon. In fact, they likely will become more intrusive. With identity theft on the rise, expect finger print, face print, eye scanning and voice recognition technologies to become more a part of our lives.
Not only do the monitoring and regulation add a certain level of discomfort to life, but the price of everything is impacted. There is a significant cost for all the surveillance and special packaging we endure, and it is all passed on to the consumer.
(As an aside, I find it quite amazing that while our government sees fit to regulate even how much water our toilets can flush, it appears unconcerned that our borders have become a sieve through which illegal aliens flow with relative ease. Ah, but that is a subject for another column.)
Like most of you, I do not like being watched every time I turn around. However, given the reality of crime in our world and the added threat of terrorism, what are the alternatives? Is there a solution that is better than constant surveillance and regulation?
Interestingly enough, many of the founders of the United States articulated the antidote to Big Brother more than 200 years ago.
“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom,” observed Benjamin Franklin. “As nations become more corrupt and vicious they have more need of masters.”
“Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other,” said John Adams, our country’s second president.
“Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled either by a power within them or a power without them; either by the Word of God or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible or by the bayonet,” stated Robert Winthrop, who served as speaker of the House of Representatives in the mid-1800s.
The words of these three men are representative of the consensus of thought that existed at the time America was founded, which was that the Bible and the practice of religion are necessary in order to have an orderly and free society.
In other words, in order for an orderly society to be possible, people must regulate their own behavior. It either will come via a self-governance based on accountability to God or it will be imposed from without by a forced accountability to government.
For more than four decades, secularists of all stripes – conservatives, liberals and libertarians – have been seeking to drive religion’s influence, especially that of Christianity, away from the public square. And now many of them decry the threat posed by surveillance and regulation?
Constant surveillance and burdensome regulations may provide some measure of safety, but it comes at a very high price – our freedom. In the end, in a fallen world absolute and complete security is an illusion.
America’s founders understood that in order to have an orderly society, citizens must embrace one of two realities: the fear of God or the fear of government. The fear of God leads to self-governance and increased freedom. The fear of government results in forced compliance and eventually tyranny.
The fear of God or the fear of government; one of the two is inevitable. George Orwell understood this concept and so did our founding fathers. It seems, however, many present-day Americans may be in the process of forgetting this timeless truth.