Tuesday, August 3, 2010

What Good Old Days?

I was recognized as the “Blog of the Moment” over at Skeptical Eye last night, and it got me thinking: what have I ever done?

I decided to dig up some old stuff I wrote in high school and college, and I must to say: I have never felt such a strange combination of pride and embarrassment. One piece won the newly established, first annual fiction writing award at my university, and I actually posted it on my blog a while ago. I was also reminded of how much poetry I used to write, and how little I write now. The last lines of poetry I found in my old notes:

If you have an idea,
And want no one to know it,
The answer is simple:
Become a poet.

How apropos...

In 2002, a high school friend of mine contacted me about a website he had started, TheSecondRevolution.com. The site didn’t last more than a couple months, and it was taken down long ago, but I remember it was the catalyst for me getting into writing about politics.

The first thing he posted to the site, besides the general ideology he espoused, was a piece of hate mail. I emailed a critical response to my friend, and he posted it on the site. He then offered to have me write a regular column for the site. I titled it “Ginx’s Symposium,” and wrote what were essentially my first blog posts.

However, my biggest surprise (and pride) comes from a class assignment I wrote in September of 2002. I decided I would reproduce it below in its entirety, because I am so proud of how a young, 18-year-old version of myself still possessed an uncanny view of reality, despite being surrounded by a whirlwind of stupidity pressuring me to throw my hands in the air with fear.

The class assignment was some form of answering the question, “How has 9/11 affected you and/or America?” It was assigned to be due on September 11th, 2002, just one short year after the attacks.

Bret Alan
11 September 2002
English 101

American Stasis

One could have predicted the horror that occurred on September 11th, or at least anyone who had been paying attention to world events. On that day last year, some 288 million Americans stared into a flickering box displaying bright pictures [inaccurate; I should have at the very least subtracted the number of blind and Amish people]. They donned their traditional lifeless cattle faces as they were dragged, kicking and screaming, into the reality of this world.

Around 3000 people died, the most casualties during any terrorist attack to date. Some thought America would finally awaken from the complacency that it had slipped into for years, that America would finally use its power and worldwide influence to make a positive contribution in the world.

Instead, what happened was an ironic twist in the fabric of history, as America became the new prominent outpost for intolerance and ignorance, displacing the Taliban as the primary enemy of liberty. The land of the free would soon prove that only its own leaders could threaten the liberty and justice of its people; that civilians nationwide would not only perpetuate the endless cycle of money hungry capitalism, but would stubbornly hold onto its role as a country of numb slugs.

The government could not have staged an event that would better allow them to flex their bureaucratic muscles. With the new threat of global terrorism, government officials can finally do away with such inconveniences as civil liberties and privacy, all in the name of security. Benjamin Franklin wrote, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety,” and the American government doesn’t seem to adhere to this idea.

Our government has decided it has the responsibility to not only invade the private dealings of other countries, but now to do so to citizens at home as well. It seems new acts are passed weekly as a result of September 11th. From broad sweeping laws about internet privacy to petty laws banning plastic weapons that can evade metal detectors, the government continues to clamp down on what we can and cannot do, even what we can say and write.

Americans are told that terrorists endanger the freedom of every person in this country, and that Osama bin Laden does not like the liberties we enjoy. However, it is the hypocrites in Washington that are actually passing into law the things that threaten our civil liberties.

Stagnant and apathetic Americans everywhere scoff at the notion of a “Big Brother” society, saying laws being passed now do not enact anything like those measures described in “Farhenheit 451.” However, they fail to see that it is a small step into that direction, and that it opens the door to further violations in the future. Thought police may not be here yet or even in the next ten years, but we should not be giving anyone the tools to start down that road, even though we are scared and unsure.

The only way to reverse this trend is through knowledge. This is a country that is supposed to be run by the people, so the people must know what is going on. They must strive for knowledge, not just from the corporate media who conveniently give them sound bytes and out of context highlights while rarely focusing in on real issues. This is a nation that has more free time than any other [not true], and we spend it sitting on our asses filling our bodies and minds with garbage.

Know your government. Write letters to your representatives. Do something to make this nation the pillar of freedom that it once was. If we leave the government to lead without knowing what they are doing, we are conceding to a dictatoriship. This is our country to take back from the real terrorists; not the ones in turbans, but the ones in designer suits.

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